Incremental innovation, at pace
But it appears that many organisations are oblivious to this reality. Most established businesses appear to be actively sidestepping anything that might deliver exponential growth. Most likely, being established, and thus with something to lose, they are not veering too far away from the status quo, perhaps not understanding the correlation between risk and value. Thus established organisations are on a low gradient path paved with incremental innovation. Better to stay close to the herd.
Smart start-ups can see what is happening and they are using the exponential technology growth to radically innovate. The resultant impact is generally happier customers and increasing irrelevance for the established players.
This growing divergence between technological growth and herd incrementalism is setting the established players on a path that has all the hallmarks of an imminent car crash.
Established players have three options:
- Do nothing and hope their platform burns very slowly.
- Create a 2.0 version of their business and get radical.
- Up the pace of their existing business model and accelerate the rate of incremental innovation. Radical innovation will arise from incremental innovation, repeated at pace.
Perhaps the best model is a combination of the latter two. Create a 2.0 version of your business staffed with creative disrupters whose job is to attack your 1.0 business. And at the same time put your 1.0 business on steroids. That is to say turn sleepy hollow into a real-time ops centre (There are plenty of models to choose from – NASA, CTU, any investment bank trading floor, MMA cage).
Your 1.0 staff may find this something of a shock. But we are not asking them to become Madison Avenue creatives overnight, or ever. But we are asking them to constantly push the boundaries in terms of improving the customer condition, no matter how relatively insignificant it may seem.
Of course, you must have a process that enables these incremental changes to move from concept to live environment in minimal time. In the digital economy doing trumps thinking.
Established players caught in the headlights of the digital economy are encouraged to take action, any action. Stampeding unicorns can do a lot of damage. You have been warned.