The newsletters of Adam Hartung.

Keynote Speaker, Managing Partner, Author on Trends

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Watch Your Markets to Innovate

by | Nov 22, 2017

Our 20 years of research has shown that consistent success at innovation is the result of carefully applying four factors. Firms can win sometimes with only 2 or 3, but that risks costly mistakes. Worse, they don’t know what went wrong.

The Four Stages of Good Innovation Management are:

  1. Market Sensing- Gathering the right data
  2. Data Collection- Gathering data the right way
  3. Data Analysis- Hearing the market story
  4. Response- Doing the right things

Market Sensing

This newsletter will focus on the first stage, which lays the foundation for the entire innovation process.

Market Sensing is often viewed as gathering traditional industry data such as existing customers, existing competitors and existing technology evolution. Unfortunately, that information is woefully incomplete. Case studies and product failure analyses are filled with stories of how an upstart company, on nobody’s radar, created a new product, category or even a new market obsoleting the existing industry and changing key metrics.

Companies try to overcome the myopia by holding brainstorming sessions. But….

“Ok, we’ve got 6 months to make the numbers,” exhorts the VP. “We’ll watch this video on brainstorming and then break into small groups. Each group will generate ideas on how we can improve. No idea is too crazy at this stage!” But the VP adds, “Oh, by the way, we can’t hire any new people, spend any more money or move our resources around, so let’s work within those guidelines. Off you go; present after lunch!”

The Right Way to Market Sense

There are three types of questions for brainstorming:
1. What is happening now? What is considered the status quo?
2. What could happen that would destroy our business?
3. What could happen that would allow us to destroy our competition?

Once you answer these questions, identify what trends are driving each scenario. What trend can be leveraged to really do something different? What trend, taken to a greater extent, could change the status quo? Disregard existing beliefs, accept that “maybe pigs could fly,” and figure out what trend could make that happen. Then identify the data you could track.

prototype delivery droneFor example, no one was considering delivering packages via drones, until news reported drones hovering over prisons to drop items. Next, DHL and Amazon said they were testing the idea for packages, and suddenly the competition for home and medical delivery changed dramatically. But few affected companies looked hard at this trend and were tracking drone size payload capacity, operational distance, navigation technology, etc.

The Lesson

Once the opportunity for changing the status quo happens, it is incumbent on every competitor to brainstorm how to track that trend and incorporate this trend into innovation plan. It was about 100 years since the first air mail planes but it took less than 5 years from prototype to drone delivery.

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“In the field of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”

Louis Pasteur

Actions you can take

Most companies simply continue planning as if the future will look like the past, without sensing potential market shifts. They are forced to react when trends change the basis of competition, often late and with no insight into the look of future markets and competition. Try Market Sensing to more out of ideation sessions on products and services.

Stay tuned to my next newsletter, when we delve into data collection.

If you can’t wait, give me a call or drop me an email so we can discuss your needs.

How we can help

Our two decades of helping organizations identify and implement innovations gives us keen insight into how sustaining, expanding and disruptive innovations can be identified, evaluated for risk and cost, and managed for successful market growth.  Our experience and processes will help you grow via innovation with more confidence, less time investment, lower cost and faster, greater returns.

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.


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