Speed is often associated with innovative initiatives. But today we want to show you that quicker does not always will mean better. We want to show you how slow innovation can help you manage in the high-speed world we live in.
The high-speed times
Alright, let’s face it, we live in a time where we expect everything done quickly. We expect the fastest service, as we demand the fastest Wi-Fi. But why are we so thrilled with speed?
Scientists believe that humans are addicted to the dopamine that is released from adrenaline spikes when we’re put into a fight or flight situation. And it’s no different in the business world. Speed and growth have become the fuel of many Silicon Valley businesses. This concept of growth at all costs is less risky for disruptor brands and startups than it is for large established businesses.
There are more and more companies that embrace today’s need for speed. They are jumping on new ways of working, inspired by startup culture – design sprints, and accelerators. But the problem isn’t the speed of these techniques. We worry about a greater chance of them being misled or misused, as they become more popular and widely accessible. We consider a fast approach more as ‘innovation theatre’ than impact which can solve your company’s concerns.
Going too fast has its downside. Here are three very common innovation speed traps:
Innovation before its time
We often met the business owners who released their innovations before their time. The market and the customers weren’t in a place to embrace these new innovations. Ultimately, thousands of products were made with no single sale. As the result, businesses fail miserably.
You also open yourself up to making mistakes while innovating too fast. You skip essential steps, you don’t make enough analysis. And you fail.
Death before spin
Sometimes companies change too quickly due to being too reactive. Many concepts are great ideas in theory. We saw companies launching their product before production, pitching them to the public, believing it will somehow happen. Unfortunately, there’s the plan, and strategy needed. You must know if the creation of such a product is even possible (ex. from a technical point of view). In other cases, companies change due to hype and through chaos, they lose their position.
So why not embrace slow innovation?
For many, ‘slow’ is seen as a dirty word. Often associated with being lazy, or giving up. But slow doesn’t have to mean ineffective.
In reality, some of the most successful companies of our time master this concept of ‘slow innovation.’ Look at Apple. This huge brand is famous for not inventing new products, but really perfecting them. Businesses should be strategic about their evolution, without becoming too reactive to the latest threat or trend.
Sure, you may be thinking, the world moves so fast, so the company can’t go any slower when it comes to innovating. But our experience shows, that the companies usually go too slow with the execution part of the journey. You should be taking the time to do due diligence in the upfront innovation process, instead of jumping straight into the solution. And yes, this involves investing resources and money into market research to reinforce business-first thinking. Thoughtlessness and blind impulsiveness isn’t something that can really guide and support you.
1. Slow down for decision making
Far too often we force solutions to market, without considering if we’re still headed down the right path or if the world in which we operate has changed since the brief was made. We met the companies that did the deep research, but a few years ago. Since then many things change but they didn’t research these changes. Then they wondered why there was no market for their innovative solution.
2. Slow down for wide thinking
Take into account all potential impacts and ripple effects that a solution may cause. Look beyond the walls of the company and thinking a situation through the full ecosystem. Develop contingency plans for both winners and losers in order to ensure long-term sustainability.
3. Slow down to think proactively
Finally, take the time to regularly scan for signals of change in an effort to identify opportunities as they emerge, not just react to them when they’ve become too serious to avoid. This can be started by establishing rituals that monitor for shifts in the outside world. Such activity will allow you to switch your strategy from defence to offence.
Practice slow innovation
We told you a little bit about the concept of deceleration. We encourage you to practice it for yourself. Balance your Type 1 Thinking (intuition) with Type 2 Thinking (logic, analytics, and rigour). So that you will be less prone to error, less reactive, and less emotionally biased towards new innovation.