Four effective Innovation Strategies in practice

Collaborate with your worst customers: In the words of Bob Dylan, “When you ain’t got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose.”  You have little to lose by collaborating with a customer who is dissatisfied with your offering and probably intends to leave.  Typically, we don’t do this, because it’s painful, but these customers may actually provide the innovative solution to your challenges, as well as growth.  Ask them, what’s working and what’s not.  Chances are that they will tell you.  Then ask them, what would you like to happen and how would you make it happen?  The key is to move you out of the reactive relationship with a customer and to have them participate in creating a vision, or even a solution.  People typically don’t resist the ideas that they helped create.  It’s important to remember that every time you solve a problem, that you have created a potential product or service, if packaged and replicated properly.  Don’t just look for customer satisfaction or retention; look for ways to produce customer success.  Show; don’t tell. Famed product design firm IDEO created prototypes of the original Apple mouse and iPod out of everyday materials, such as a bar of soap.  In an age where most people have a camcorder and computer, it’s very easy to create a mock-up or some other proof of concept for an idea.  Remember to always tell the story from their point of view; show how it will improve their lives.  Hide your innovative idea inside a Trojan horse project.  Stop wasting your time trying to drum up support from people who don’t see the value of innovation.  Instead, identify the key stakeholders in your organization who are pro-change and innovation.  Work to understand their point of view, their plans and pet projects.  See if you can include your innovative ideas inside their projects like a Trojan horse.  This means that your project will have to support someone else’s agenda and goals.  Through these Trojan horse projects, you have the freedom to experiment, validate your concept, demonstrate success through metrics and build your innovation constituency, all with minimum resistance.

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