What keeps you awake at night?

One of my favorite questions that I love to ask innovation leaders is, “What keeps you awake at night"? It can bring so many different answers, from cultural and strategic problems to execution and delivery issues.

One of the most interesting responses I get is, “We don’t want to miss the next Big Innovation”.

The key concern is around those Eureka moments that an individual has but needs to share with the company to take it forwards. Especially if it’s the kind of breakthrough innovation where the potential is clear – then the quicker the better.

I remember meeting Art Fry, formerly of 3M and a true innovator, who shared the well-known story of the Post-It Note™.

Art Fry

Art Fry, creator of the Post-It Note

In 1974 he had a true Eureka moment for a simple product that he and others rapidly prototyped but took many years for realization. If it wasn’t for some inventive internal marketing efforts we may never have seen this innovation from 3M.  For an innovation that was generating over $1b in sales annually last time I checked, you really don’t want to miss the next Big Innovation and rely (as 3M then did then) on the grassroots efforts that can take years to bring such a breakthrough innovation to market.  When you find the next big innovation you really want to progress it as fast as you can – with due diligence of course.

So how do you support these breakthrough innovations? As with a lot of things in life you need many components and importantly resource and a process to support and guide them as they emerge.

What I learnt from Art was that if you didn’t have a process and importantly a breakthrough one for the game changing things, supported by leadership and strategy, you pretty much had to make up your own and be innovative in making it happen.

That was then – today the best companies, like 3M, have developed their innovation capabilities but some are still missing a specialized breakthrough track to really accelerate the next Big Innovation.  You don’t want to slow things down through your standard Stage-Gate™, especially when your competition may be thinking the same thing as you. Innovation isn’t just about discovery but appropriate execution.

I remember a key project Imaginatik worked which not only created a disruptive new product in the marketplace but also innovated the process in taking it to market. This created a breakthrough track for game-changing innovations that was twice as fast as it was before. So not only did the product gain market share but revenues were generated a whole 12 months in advance of initial predictions. Now that’s innovating your dimensions.

Companies today need to develop breakthrough innovation components to embrace the next big innovation and make it happen. Most do this deliberately, even if it’s a Eureka moment in how they emerge.

As you would expect, Imaginatik has been challenged by innovation leaders to enable this capability for them. Together we have discovered how to make this a visible, accessible, repeatable and intuitive process in discovering and managing anything outside or inside the box that can really game-change a company.

If you’re missing this capability, ask yourself one simple question: What’s it going to take to make this happen, and get me sleeping better at night? Because you already know that you can’t afford to miss the next Big Innovation.

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