The newsletters of Adam Hartung.

Keynote Speaker, Managing Partner, Author on Trends

Adam Hartung photo

Getting More out of Less When Investing for Growth

by | May 25, 2017 | 0 comments

Investment vs Ansoff matrix in current/current

Copyright Adam Hartung 2017

We know the truth, most of our company investments are made to protect sales of existing products with existing customers.  Maybe move them along to a few incremental new products.  But the yield on these investments just isn’t as high as other opportunities – if we could just figure out how to make those investments so we get more, with less.

Investing in current product sales to current customers is easy, because everything is organized to make that happen:

  1. Never ending need to meet additional customer needs or requests
  2. Forever adding features, or finding ways to lower costs, to keep up with competitors
  3. It’s what we know how to do,and are organized to implement. We have little fear of execution.

River Lifecycle showing Innovation Gap and riskBut, we know the risk at this time in the lifecycle is complacency, creating a growing Innovation Gap. Other companies – or even customers – are creating the next innovations.  The larger the Innovation Gap grows the more difficult it will be to make the jump to the new technology and the new market opportunities.

It’s time to reduce the low-ROI spending on protecting existing, low-growth businesses.  By cutting back on spending to protect the dog-eat-dog existing market, you can create free money to invest on higher ROI projects in growth markets.

In today’s fast-paced world, the biggest risk is under investing in new products, customers and markets –  allowing the threat of unseen disruptive innovations to upset existing market positions. If a company in the Flats first realizes there is an Innovation Gap by discovering a new disruptive innovation at a customer it is easy to dismiss. But as that innovation takes hold, the question quickly turns to, “How did we miss that”?  At best, sales growth is lost. At worst the company’s very existence is threatened.

How can a company improve its “innovation radar” to see disruptive innovations?  What are the sources of innovations? Here are the four places to spot innovations that can propel your growth:

Source Where to look
Vendors Will bring new products to you
Current Customers unmet needs Customers adapt products all the time. Ask what they have done that’s new or observe customers using your product
Fringe Competitors Industry observers, social media and customers can hear about unusual developments in the industry
New Products/New Customers in New Markets Look at overlapping trends to spot emerging solutions that will grow

In honor of those serving in our military and Memorial Day, we have three quotes about tackling tough situations:

Add me to email list!

“The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer.”

SeaBees, U.S. Navy

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

General George S. Patton U.S. Army

Actions you can take

Sound hard?  Like any new skill, companies can learn how to spot innovation opportunities. Rather than placing your best people on preserving the status quo, put them on the edge of the business.  Assign your best resources to this task: technical, creative and marketing. Let them create the New/New quadrant to reduce the perceived risk and help them develop the new execution skills that lead the way to growth.

How we can help

We are your experts at identifying trends, creating scenarios and building monitoring systems.  We’ve done this kind of work for over 20 years, and bring a wealth of experience, and tools, to the task.  You don’t have to go into scenario planning alone; we can be your coach and mentor to speed learning, and success.

For more on how to include trends in your planning, I’ve created a “how-to” that you can adapt for your team.  See my Status Quo Risk Management Playbook.

Give us a call today, or send an email, so we can talk about how you can be a leader, rather than follower, in 2017 and beyond.  Or check out the rest of the website to read up on what we do so we can create the right level of engagement for you.

Forbes Posts- Hartung on Leadership, Investing, Trends

Add me to email list!



Adam's book reveals the truth about how to use strategy to outpace the competition.

Create Marketplace Disruption book


Follow Adam's coverage in the press and in other media.


Follow Adam's column in Forbes.