There’s one single truth that gets forgotten about innovation in the new age.

The new age? An era when the development of technological functionality is outpacing product design and understanding.

  • An age when we have five generations in the workplace at the same time.
  • When Baby Boomers are working long into their 70s and Millennials could be looking at careers spanning 80 years.
  • When everything we know about insurance, banking, personal transport, communications and community has changed and continues to evolve exponentially.
  • A time when technology is readily adopted and feared in equal measure.

In the new age, the success rate for new product and service ideas is low, and the failure rate for whole companies is higher than ever. Part of this is because new ideas often appeal more to the inventor than the target customers.

So the one thing you need to know about innovating today is that you may be the most creative, challenging, disruptive and change-making person your company has ever seen, but being innovative simply isn’t enough. Whether you’re working at product level or on business strategy, to break an idea or a product through the barriers – you can’t do it on your own.

The truth about trying to change anything that threatens the status quo is that, well, it threatens the status quo. Companies don’t like that. Companies are structured for a reason: to align everybody around a common purpose and to make sure they don’t deviate from the plan. When you go looking for support – or even an objective hearing – your pitch, your rationale and your presentation of the business case better be good.

A company with a hierarchy and a set ‘method’ must also control its quality of output and its overheads. Both these constraints affect freedom of thought and, ultimately, how radical the project can get.

Let’s move on. Let’s assume you’ve done the best job possible and gained company-wide support for the concept that’s going to change the way your company does business into the future. This is where you really need help. Having an idea, researching the rationale, presenting the stats and ROI calculations, and even lobbying for your concept are things that just one person, or a few people, can do. But it’s when the idea gets past the start line and into development that the fun really starts.

Keeping an idea radical isn’t easy either. Almost every function is set up to round off the sharp edges of what you’re trying to achieve: Production doesn’t make it that way; Marketing doesn’t know that audience; your Project Manager sees the brief differently. These are all people who will have impact on the original vision.

Here’s a PR quote from a cosmetics company that recently announced a product launch that “develops the world’s first visual fragrance™ technology”:

Co-Founder and Chairman of Amkiri, David Chissick, says: “Moving from idea to execution was the biggest challenge. Developing this technology meant pushing the boundaries. We needed to create a whole new category in the beauty industry, which involved formulating fragrance in a colour form, and inventing applicators which did not exist. We have been lucky to have the highest-level multi-disciplinary team of experts on our team, as well as amazing supportive partners, all of whom helped bring this idea to life, and overcome the challenges we faced.” 

A great example of a new idea needing to avoid the hierarchy and the set ‘method’ of an industry, and change more than the constraints  affecting freedom of thought and, ultimately, how radical the project can get.

If your business has an idea (or needs an idea) and wants some support, get in touch.

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

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