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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How to Transform Frustration into Innovation?

Are you frustrated? That's wonderful news, because frustration shows commitment and gives great energy. The only thing is to focus it on creating instead of demolishing.
I was definitely frustrated in my working life in marketing and innovation; first as a manager in industry and later as a consultant in innovation. Why? Well, I tried to move companies ahead but it went all very slow. It seemed that everybody within the organisation tried to block new initiatives ... instead of help us to move along. I have never heard so many no's ...

The single biggest obstacle causing all the frustration in innovation in one word is: no. 

  1. No, we have done it always this way… 
  2. No, our customers won’t like that…! 
  3. No, it’s not possible…
  4. No, that’s not logical…
  5. No, there's no budget
  6. No, management won’t agree…
  7. No, that's way to risky
It appears that innovation in bigger organisations is not so difficult because customers don't want to change... No, it's difficult because a lot of people internally try to stop you continuously on your path from idea to launch to renew your companies products, services or processes. Yes, it makes you very tired and disappointed, like me. During my working life, as you get older, I found a way though to use my frustration in a positive way, which I love to share with you five insights I learned in practice. 
HOW to transform your frustration into innovation?

1. Stop fighting. Your organisation is like a herd of animals. The herd goes as fast as the slowest animal. If the non-innovators lean back nothing moves. They determine actually the pace of the company. When you fight them they will fight back. And the whole herd comes to a standstill. Accept that not everybody is a forward thinker or has an innovative mind set.
2. Pick the right moment. From the old English proverb "necessity is the mother of Invention" we learn that change starts with urgency. As innovator, one of your most important roles is to build awareness that your company needs to innovate. It all starts with accepting that it is normal that your top managers fear innovation. They will only change their conservative views if they get fresh new insights. So a very effective strategy for you is to provide your managers and board with all kinds of signals they your market is changing rapidly: new technology, changing customer preferences, new competitors, changing legislations et cetera. Keep confronting them until the urgency to innovate will be understood and is top-of-mind. 
3. Show them a path. When you innovate you want to go into new directions. Well... which way is up? When you have stand still for years everybody is afraid to make the first step. It's like crossing a field of fresh snow in the mountains. There might be a nasty surprise with each step. This means that you will  have to use a structured approach to guide the rest of your organisation. Show them a path, as people need to feel secure otherwise they don't move. 
4. Co-create with others. You love what you create yourself. As your most conservative colleagues actually the pace of the company, be sure to include a couple of them in your innovation team. They too, will support what they help create.  And by changing their mind set they will be internal ambassadors for your innovation project. If you want support for innovation: co-create from the start. 
5. Bring back business not radical ideas. It's great when you have a radical new idea, but this is only the first step. Top management is looking for growth and new business. That's why you get a lot more company support if you bring back new business instead of new ideas. A practical format for what I call a mini new business case, which might be handy. The purpose is to substantiate, in a business-like and convincing manner, to what degree and for what reason your idea for a new product, service or business model is attractive and feasible for your organisation. You can download the format of the mini new business case.
I hope you got inspired by some of these insights and wish you a lot of success on your own innovation expeditions in 2016.


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