As mentioned in the article „Creativity: The ability to develop new products and services„, creativity is only one dimension of the Innovation Competency. Creativity alone is not enough. Timeliness is the supplier’s ability to contribute early enough to enable customers to recognize value.
Regardless of whether an organization has a creative idea, the ability to implement this idea in a timely fashion is of critical importance. Timely contributions help the customer gain the benefits of innovations, and also helps to ensure that the supplier’s ideas are in place early enough to be considered and included within the plans and process used by these customers.
Timeliness for new solutions and approaches
Blue Canyon finds that customers give high praise to suppliers that help them get ahead of a problem or opportunity. Having a well-defined, formal organizational structure in place to prioritize and allocate time and funding to innovation as well as the right individuals involved who can ensure all insights are taken into consideration, can be key sources of competitive advantage.
Many reasons we hear why organizations are unable to efficiently implement innovative strategies range from not having a formal organizational structure in place to a lack of clear roles and responsibilities, or an effective decision-making process. Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine, authors of the article “Four Paths to Business Model Innovation,” point out that one of the key elements for developing new business models is to evaluate who in the customer chain can quickly benefit from these creative ideas (1).
When evaluating your organization’s ability to swiftly implement innovative ideas throughout the organization, questions to consider should include:
- Is my organization responsive, and does it help customers get ahead of problems and opportunities?
- Does my organization have a formal, well-structured process in place to determine emerging needs and anticipate new trends in the marketplace?
- Are we able to meet and possibly exceed all relevant schedules and deadlines?
Timing is key
If you find that customers aren’t embracing your organization’s innovative ideas, it may be due to poor timing. High frequency interaction with the marketplace is essential to understand if and when early adaptors are positioned to take advantage of your company’s innovations. Many suppliers with whom Blue Canyon has worked have been surprised at how their innovation is sometimes perceived by the marketplace as being a “knock-off, want-to-be” alternative, or an incomplete solution, or in some cases a new, elegant idea that is not fully ready for the mainstream market. As Geoffrey Moore discussed in his book, Crossing the Chasm, the early market consists of customers who want to try new ideas and customers who have had some important problem to solve. In Moore’s technology life cycle estimate, this early market only represents on average 15 percent of the total potential market (2).
About the author
Atlee Valentine Pope is president and chief executive officer of Blue Canyon Partners, Inc., and the co-author of the growth strategy book CoDestiny: Overcome Your Growth Challenges By Helping Your Customers Overcome Theirs. In addition to overseeing Blue Canyon’s operations, Atlee works directly with a number of clients to produce market-driven answers and actions plans that foster profitable growth. More recently, Atlee’s work has included helping clients in areas such as channel management, strategy implementation, pricing strategies and adjacencies.
More you can find on www.bluecanyonpartners.com.
(1) Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine, Four Paths to Business Model Innovation, July-August 2014, Harvard Business Review
(2) Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm, 2014, HarperCollins Publishers