The two questions you must answer to innovate successfully
If you want to create a successful innovation, there are two questions you need to know the answers to:
One: What do your customers want? Two: What can your business supply?
That may sound blindingly obvious, but in our experience, it’s not. Too often, companies don’t get past the first question. They get carried away with the “wow” of an exciting new idea and ignore the “how” of what it takes to bring it to market.
This is partly due to the way innovation is typically managed within companies. Usually, innovation is owned either by a dedicated innovation team, or by the marketing team – neither of which have historically had a very close relationship with the production side of the business, i.e. the people in the factories.
Just take a look at the profiles of LinkedIn members. A quick search reveals that 3.4 million of the site’s 467 million members mention the word “innovation” in their profiles. Of those, more than two thirds also include the word “strategy”, “marketing” or “sales”. But only around one in seven include the words “product”, “production” or “operations”. Clearly, innovation is viewed as a function that lives with marketing and sales, and not with the nuts-and-bolts production side of the business.
We believe this is a key reason why so many innovations fail. Innovation teams end up wasting time on ideas that the factory can’t bring to life – at least not without a big investment of time and money.
Ifan Jenkins, marketing manager for Glenfiddich whisky at William Grant & Sons, says: “Often the people who are making innovations in a company are marketing or innovation guys who may only work on a brand for a few years, then move brands or companies or sectors. But a lot of the craft and understanding of product lies with the people who actually make it, who tend to stay with a company for a lot longer and may have a completely different perspective.”
The solution to this problem lies in a better understanding of your company’s production capabilities: in other words, what factories and production equipment you own, and what they can make.
Happen addresses this through our unique innovation framework, Asset-Out, which harnesses the innovation potential that lies dormant in your factories. Asset-Out identifies product features that you can produce with little or no investment, to create innovations that meet consumer needs.
We’ve used Asset-Out to help big names such as Mondelez, Arla Foods, Omega Pharma and Glenfiddich to get innovations to market more quickly, with less risk and better odds of success. All by focusing not just on demand but on supply – which means getting to know the people, processes and production assets on the factory floor.