If you own or run a business…
If you lead a high performance team…
If you are responsible for driving sales in your organization…
then I’m sure that you’ll agree that there is never a lack of urgent items clamoring for your attention.
And then I come along.
I come along telling you that innovation is no longer a matter of choice but an urgent matter of survival.
I press upon you not only the importance of the competency of innovation but the urgency of the act itself.
I ask you take time from a schedule that is already too full and to add tasks to a to-do list that is already too long.
Talk about an annoying house guest. Sheesh!
Truth be told, however, innovation is a matter of urgency and to most of us whose plates are already filled to overflowing, the prospect can appear downright daunting.
What’s the best way to add innovation to the mix?
How do you decide where best to invest your time, resources and energy?
Where do you start?
Today I’d like to share a model with you that many of my clients use to help them make decisions about where to place their innovation energies. It’s called Create, Demonstrate and Deliver: The Innovation Sweet Spot.
Create, Demonstrate and Deliver: The Innovation Sweet Spot
For innovation to thrive in any organization, efforts need to be focused on three primary innovation mandates.
1. Create value for our customers.
2. Demonstrate value to our customers.
3. Deliver value to our customers.
I like to ask my clients to imagine the Create, Demonstrate and Deliver Value mandate as three concentric – or overlapping – circles.
The top left hand circle is for Create Value. This is where we put innovation to work creating and designing new products, services and experiences that add strategic value to our client offerings.
The top right hand circle is for Demonstrate Value. This is where we apply the principles of innovation to our marketing and sales initiatives so that our message stands out in the crowd; so that our customers are not only aware of but also intrigued by the innovative offerings that we have created.
The bottom circle is for Deliver Value, because all of the innovative products and innovative marketing in the world won’t mean much if your company isn’t able to drive home value in the oh so crucial delivery phase.
Now here’s what’s really cool.
If you balance your innovation initiatives between the Create, Demonstrate and Deliver Value innovation mandates, you will end up in the overlapping area of our three circles in what I call the Innovation Sweet Spot.
And oh how sweet it is.
The Innovation Sweet Spot is like a well balanced machine where strategic focus drives innovation investment and great ideas are designed to drive results in the key areas of your business that matter most to your customers.
However, if your innovation efforts are not balanced between the three strategic areas of the innovation mandate, the Sweet Spot can go down right sour!
For example, if you innovate to Create Value and to Demonstrate Value but don’t innovate the Delivery of your Value, you run the risk of creating a disconnect between what you promise and what you deliver.
The first example that comes to my mind of this kind of disconnect would be a company in the fast food industry. Actually, most companies in the fast food industry.
I don’t know about you but I have never had a burger that actually looked like the pictures in the magazines and I have certainly never been served by anyone whose attitude even remotely resembles the smiling and energetic folks that appear in those commercials.
Customers want to believe you. They want to see the best in you. But if you let them down too often – if the delivery disconnects outweigh the innovative products and the cool marketing – they will wise up and go elsewhere.
If you innovate to Create Value and to Deliver Value but don’t innovate to Demonstrate value, you run the risk of becoming your industry’s best kept secret. A whole marketplace full of your ideal customers may never know that you exist because you’re simply invisible.
This is the situation that Shreddies found themselves in several years ago. When sales dropped dramatically, Post Cereal’s first instinct was to test for a flaw in the product or customer experience. There wasn’t any such flaw. Customers had just stopped noticing Shreddies on the shelves. Simply said, Post Cereals was no longer innovating how they demonstrated the uniqueness of Shreddies and to that end, Diamond Shreddies was born and market share increased 18% in the first quarter!
And last but not least, if you innovate to Demonstrate value and you have a five-star Delivery process but you are not creating any innovative new products and services, your customers will eventually be wooed away by the shiny new offerings of your competition and you run the risk of becoming obsolete.
So the next time that you are faced with a long list of urgent initiatives competing for your attention and you find yourself asking “Where do I start?” Simply look at how each project fits into the balance of your Create, Demonstrate and Deliver Value innovation mandate and take it from there.
See you in the Innovation Sweet Spot!
Imagine the Possibilities!