room44 innovates

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.

To stay relevant to your customers over the next couple of years you’ll need to be aware of mega trends: the very biggest macro factors.

Mega trends are those irreversible, slow-to-grow changes that we tend not to recognise as quickly as we might. It’s a bit like seeing a child (puppy, kitten) after a period of time: you notice their growth much more than if you see them every day.

Who do mega trends affect?

Mega trends affect us all. They offer opportunity and threat to business in equal measure. The opportunities presented by mega trends are visible to companies who actively look for ideas to grow. The threats that mega trends present are also clear to companies looking for ideas to grow. The message is this – if you’re not looking at trends, you aren’t seeing either growth opportunity or risk of disruption.

Here in the UK many brands, especially SMEs, are wrapped up in Brexit, and it’s become really easy not to look too far into the future. While Brexit is definitely a macro factor, it’s also been difficult to plan for.

True mega trends are usually easier to read than Brexit, and definitely more likely to open up an opportunity. These are some mega trends you might like to take a look at…

The sharing economy – this may be a hard one to get to grips with if you sell consumer products. As things are developing, your newest customers are making fewer capital purchases – but there are two sides to this.

If you sell sofas, you can rent out sofas. If you sell bikes, hire out bikes. The transition to a subscription model is not hard unless you just don’t see the need.

Personal Mobility – while governments around the world are pumping billions into the electrification of cars, there is an undercurrent of radical change that still has a long way to go.

Not only are cars and other vehicles subject to changes in fuel systems, with all the knock-on impact that will have on the automotive supply chain, but even this emerging market is under pressure from the sharing economy. This trend is going to run and run, and electricity won’t be the only fuel solution explored. This blog talks about this more:

Emotional intelligence – Human Resource departments are great at building systems to recruit team members who ‘fit’ with each other.

They have known for decades that IQ isn’t the only measure of probable effectiveness. Emotional Quotient (EQ) is now better understood and it’s being managed and exploited. EQ describes the way you monitor your emotions and the emotions of your colleagues, as well as how customers react in response to your brand messages. EQ extends through your recruitment, staff management and how you are able to manage consumer loyalty.

To build a sustainable brand position, your launch planning must be part of the innovation process and persona development at the earliest possible time.

The room44 Innovation Process takes EQ into account. Let’s talk about this complex part of your plan. You can book some time here to talk.

Ages of population – here’s how the ages of the various generations are described.

Your customer personas need to anticipate how the ages of your shoppers are shifting. It’s thought that 75% of the workforce in 2025 could be Millennials.

People who sit in Gen Z and Alpha will live well beyond 100 and have plenty of time for several discrete careers. What does this mean? Well, one theory is that Gen Zs are already approaching an age when their first business sectors are changing enough that they need to retrain.

Law – the legal systems we abide by have been developed over hundreds of years. Prevailing laws are the compound product of ideas and reactions to societal developments that have taken place over time.

History tells us that legislators are slow to evolve laws to meet a new situation, and yet the forecasted rate of change in many areas of our lives means that the legal system must accelerate to keep up. Laws rely on precedent to direct us, but technology is applying pressure here. Financial management, online business, digital fraud, autonomous vehicles, geographic and geo-fenced boundaries, artificial and human intelligence are a few examples of the areas where the law is evolving, but may need to anticipate what’s coming rather than react to what has happened.

These mega trends are just some of those that sit on the horizon. They’re already in play and will cascade to affect your customers’ choices, your brand positioning and your relationship with your buyers.

room44 watches trends, builds systems for our clients to watch for themselves and trains teams to innovate by being aware and informed about the way their markets are changing – before the change arrives.

 We can help with that. Call us to find out more: +44 208 144 9800 or click through to see how our outside insight service works. Don’t worry, there isn’t another form to fill in.

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

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