Why innovation is iteration
Thomas Edison said famously that “Genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration” When it comes to innovation in service led organisations my modern take on this is “Innovation is 1 per cent ideation and 99 per cent iteration”.
Big companies, like the ones we work with at Market Gravity, have no shortage of good ideas. A quick peek at the innovation pipeline reveals an abundance of juicy tit-bits waiting to be launched into the market. The truth is most will never get beyond the post-it note.
The real challenge is the level of iteration required to turn ideas first into commercially robust, propositions, then into viable operating models, and finally into launch-ready businesses. The complexities involved with setting up new ways of doing business with customers requiring new people skills, processes and technologies, as well as cultural changes, can be arduous and confusing.
The corporate engine is geared up for new product development, not the levels of design and testing required for developing and launching new ventures. Successful private entrepreneurs are of course used to the journey of starting up new businesses. What they do through instinct, entrepreneurial zeal and experience is second nature. For corporates however, this journey can feel strange and ambiguous, such that they fall back on familiar but inappropriate change processes.
The key to bringing an entrepreneurial mind-set into the corporate environment is iteration. Iteration is about getting to the next view quickly such that progress is made through a series of short sprints, not lengthy work streams. It enables teams to constantly step-back, assess and evaluate where they are, build on each other’s ideas and set the next course with the confidence that design integrity has been maintained.
And iteration never ends. Like the North Face slogan, “Never stop exploring” you “Never stop iterating”. The design, test, learn and re-design process continue well into launch and through to scaling.
So embrace iteration as your guide and stay the course, for as another famous saying goes “one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”. [Henry Miller].
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