Archive for October, 2010

Innovation – Not just for the Big Boys!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Innovation – Opportunity Capture – Is this just for the big boys?
© Roger La Salle 2010

The statistics make it clear

In a recent book by an MIT Professor the startling statistic was revealed that in the 1920’s the life expectancy of a US company was 65 years, today it is less than 10!

Companies that do not embrace change, Innovation and Opportunity Capture are destined for the scrap heap; or to be immersed in the mire of competitive bidding where the ultimate winner is always the customer as businesses compete in a downward competitive price spiral.

These are the facts.

But do not despair the solution is at hand. It is real, practical, tried and proven and it’s all about understanding what innovation and opportunity capture means, and moreover how you do them.

Further, this is not “rocket science” and the smaller the business the easier it is since the political impediments present in large corporation are virtually non existent.

Where to start?

The starting point is to first accept that there is no product, process or service in the world that cannot in some way be innovated. By that I mean, changed in some way to add value. If you wish to disagree with that, what you are really saying is that what you do today will be the same in 100 or more years, this is clearly ridiculous.

So accept that change is essential, and that change is possible and let innovations abound. Further this can be done in a structured way that is virtually guaranteed to yield results and perhaps surprisingly, the risks are almost non existent.

Some Small Business Examples

Some examples where small companies have embraced change and scored massive wins.

• A company in Scotland that had just a single product in a competitive market, canoe paddles. In a singe workshop we “innovated” that product to add a “New Function”. The new paddle won international acclaim and propelled the business into the multi-million dollar elite.

• A company in Melbourne that sold just one product in competition with Chinese imports. Tent poles!

Yes believe it or not this was their one an only product sold through some 239 retail outlets. One workshop later the company commenced what we refer to as Channel Enhancement. They now have some five products, all new and all sold into the same channel. Before we started talking innovation and opportunity they had no idea of the value of their channel.

• Another company, a Milk Bar (Convenience store). The owner implemented the innovation of “Complementary Products”. Believe it or not within three years the owner tuned his business into a gold mine and later sold it for five times what he had paid for it just a few years earlier.

• A session in Colombia with a company that sold small diameter, 100mm long drinking straws commonly used in that country to stir take away coffee. (A ridiculous stirrer if ever I have seen one). Using the innovation tool of “Frustration” the new stirrer had several enhancements that left competitors in its wake.

Examples of innovation and opportunity capture like this abound and can be applied to every product, process and service in the universe – now there’s a big statement!

Just accept it and move on with the task.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries.

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