Innovation: it’s too hard and takes too long.

bike, ebike, commuter, cycling, room44innovates, innovation, strategy


Sometimes innovation feels too hard and takes too long to begin when common sense says ‘good enough’ is fine.

Radical solutions may be the best way forward but a single step moves the game on far enough for the next step to feel more possible – and the next…

A personal story

Here’s an example of my own where ‘radical is the end point but an analysis of the situation revealed a more pragmatic plan.

In 2016 I raced age group triathlon with Team GB. Lots of work and then it was on to the next campaign. Next, I had a bike crash. Three months later, on my very first ride after recovering, I had another one. Just riding to work my front wheel fitted perfectly between two paving slabs. What followed was a sudden teeth/paving slab interface and a cracked sternum. Cause and effect.

Eighteen months later I started to think about riding a bike but had no interest in repeating the experience.

Design thinking

I started looking around at ways of getting back on a bike. Being inclined towards new ideas my first stop was eBikes. They’re great. However, it’d need some investment. Sure, it’ll extend my range and relieve the use of my car but right now I need to ride a bike to avoid city traffic charges and parking costs.

After lots of looking around at possible solutions I realised that I didn’t fall off my bike because I can’t ride a bike. I fell off because a 23mm tyre fits between paving slabs. My tool of choice was inappropriate for the environment.

Getting back on the bike

In response I applied the values we teach and upcycled, recycled and designed a bike for this environment.

The picture at the top of this story is that bike. Wide tyres, a saddle that avoids the need for suspension, mountain bike gears and a rack to carry a laptop or shopping.

On top, it’s a parts bin special. There are charities out there, re-purposing donated bikes and doing so for far less than high street retails.

This one cost me less than £200 and perfect for my need, today.

Here’s my product development trajectory. Short term actions that are good enough, a mid-term plan with more deliverables plotted against the size of investment and a longer-term commitment to know what’s emerging so we can leapfrog to that if necessary.

This is the pragmatic side of innovation that demands we keep an eye on trends as they develop but which gives me what I need, and want, now.

This trend identification programme could be what you need too. It doesn’t have to be hard or take long.

Learn more about outside insight here.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.