Innovation Man – Not!

Innovation Man – Not?
By Roger La Salle

A New Year is upon us. Perhaps this may be the ideal time to take a breath and look at your strategy for growth!

Check this out
If innovation is one of your strategic pillars then remember that it’s outcomes that matter, not inputs. Indeed there is an old but must see IBM video that speaks a lot to innovation endeavors. The link is at

Note, the intent is brilliant but unfortunately the outcomes are still a work in progress – will it ever be done?

The fact is, innovation does not happen even with deeply inspired people sitting in a darkened room singing the “What if I”….” hymn. “What if I … what……”? We may well ask?

Have a process
There is nowhere to go with such an open ended question. The secret to having outcomes is to finish the sentence with a full body of stimulus words each of which demands a specific answer. In fact properly done there are over 100 stimulus words that can finish the “What if I…” sentence. If you use these you can guarantee innovations will flow, literally as a river of opportunity.

So too in exploring your customer. The key to success in innovation is to understand what your customer wants. One approach is to simply ask. But this is not without its issues, including the one we so often encounter where in many cases customers seldom really know what they really want.

The secret to satisfying your customers’ needs lies in observation, what we refer to as “opportunity capture” with more than 40 ways to observe your customer. But it should not stop there, you also may need to be exploring your customer’s customer to get to the real source of true opportunity.

Finding new opportunities with which to explore and grow your business is the easy part. The real skill comes in evaluating these opportunities underpinned by the simple “technology diffusion model” – a numerical score card for new initiatives to be used as a precursor to your commercialization strategy.

None of this is difficult but your endeavors must be backed by sound judgement and proper risk management. This needs to be coupled with the clear understanding of the single biggest reason for failed innovations, the customer or perhaps better said, Market Risk.

What’s the message?
Now’s the time to review your business strategy and don’t be fooled into thinking that innovation is reserved for the gifted. We are all users of products and services. Engineers, scientist, accountants, lawyers, children, indeed everybody and anybody may be your customer. Use the right tools and outcomes are guaranteed.


Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply