Our Innovation Understanding & Beliefs

Innovation is anticipation and speed is the new currency of business. You are competing for the future and your organization’s future depends on the choices and decisions you make today!

But how are decisions made within the innovation process? What kind of data should be gathered and which insights do you really need to come up with successful innovations and make the right decisions? Furthermore, how are data and insights turned into great ideas and successful products and services? To sum it up: How data-driven is your innovation approach and process?

These are the kind of questions we discuss with our clients on a daily base and that we will elaborate on in a series of articles.

We want to help you to spot the right future opportunities by merging the best of two worlds: open-minded imagination and data-driven objectivity. We build innovative data-driven ‘Sensing Systems’ to inspire focused creativity and facilitate data-driven decision making by providing the right actionable information when you need it.

Before we go deeper into detail, we would like to introduce our innovation beliefs. We assume successful innovation should be built on four key principles:

  1. holistic innovation understanding and thinking,
  2. data-driven decision making and idea generation,
  3. open organizational boundaries and early integration of external stakeholders, and
  4. lean and agile processes and mindset.
The four key principles of data-driven innovation

Holistic – Think about business innovation rather than product innovation

Faced with slow growth, commoditization and global competition many CEOs view innovation as critical to corporate success. Still, what exactly is innovation? Despite the fact that everybody sees innovation as key success factor, many companies have a mistakenly narrow view of it. They might see innovation only as synonymous with new product development or traditional research and development. However, in order to develop a successful innovation strategy, companies need to broaden their understanding of innovation and think about business innovation rather than product innovation. Companies need to look for opportunities to innovate in four key dimensions that serve as business anchors: (1) the offerings a company creates, (2) the customers it serves, (3) the processes it employs and (4) the points of presence it uses to take its offerings to market.

Data-Driven – Never start innovation with an idea

We believe in data and its power to drive inspiration and make better decisions. However, while everybody talks about big data and the new opportunities to gather insights from new and huge data sets, the discussion is led by marketing and business intelligence professionals. Innovation management professionals are just beginning to elaborate on data driven innovation as a concept. The majority of discussions and articles are still focused on innovation processes and governance, open innovation and idea generation. While coming up with the right ideas is still a crucial element in innovation, it is still a very small part of the innovation process. More important: it should not be the first step. Only set up ideas that are built on clear problems and opportunities. That is why we say “Never start innovation with an idea”. Ideation sessions and creativity methods are right and useful, but we believe the input of ideation sessions defines the success! The relevance of generated ideas depends strongly on the right insights and inspiration.

Open – Integrate external stakeholders and consumers early and often

In a highly competitive world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research. Innovators like P&G, GE, Lego and many more successfully use open innovation to 1) expand the breadth of ideas and know-how to innovate, 2) reduce their time to market and development costs and 3) and minimize their technical and market risks. We believe integrating external stakeholders and consumers early and often is a key element of successful innovation.

Lean & Agile – Create a culture of entrepreneurship and innovate in constant beta mode

Times of rapid change require rapid movement! Big corporations need to learn from start-ups how to become more lean and agile. Start-ups innovate with fewer resources at a quicker pace by applying rapid prototyping and constant testing, and making learning and iteration their priority and thus innovating in constant “Beta Mode”. We believe that big corporations can significantly increase the speed and relevance of their products and services by applying lean start-up principles and processes build around metrics, hypotheses and experiments.

In the upcoming articles we will elaborate on our innovation beliefs, selected methods and cases in greater depth.

4 Comments

Christoph

Great point. What’s your approach to developing data-driven insights? And where and how do you incorporate data in your innovation-process? Would be great if you could share your learnings in future articles! Thanks!

» Reply

Steffen Hück
Steffen Hück

Hi Christoph,
great you like our thoughts on innnovation and the value of making the innovation process more data-driven. We are going to elaborate more on our approach and will share some cases and examples in the future. One very exiting project we are working on together with the German Institute for Artificial Intelligence is the Trend Radar https://www.tdreply.de/project/dfki-early-trend-radar/
Looking forward on your thoughts.
Best,
Steffen

Michal Glazer

Hello Steffen,
Thanks for the interesting article on innovation. Unfortunately I can’t agree with the point 2 that the data-driven decision making is prerequisite for any successful innovation.
2 example worth to consider.
– There are extensive data available on any stock exchange behavior/trend but decision making based on any historical data does not guarantee success in the future. The stock behavior process is extremely stochastic. How much stochastic is any idea generation/innovation? Please google for “Stochastic models of innovation processes” by Werner Ebeling.
– Was Steve Jobs’ Mac/IPhone/Ipad introduction data-driven decisions or rather materializing his vision? (see: Steve Jobs: Die autorisierte Biografie des Apple-Gründers)
Happy to get you involved in more discussion.
Best regards,
Michal

» Reply

Lars-Alexander Mayer
Lars-Alexander Mayer

Hi Michal,
great you like our article. As Steffen is away on holiday, I’d like to answer on his behalf.
1. Thanks for your hint to the article of Werner Ebeling. As Steffen described in his article (Quote: “We build innovative data-driven ‘Sensing Systems’ to inspire focused creativity and facilitate data-driven decision making by providing the right actionable information when you need it.”) our approach is not limited to predicting success of technologic innovations but to spot opportunities (technological or not) that help spark ideas to start innovation processes. As our understanding of innovation is that it is the economically successful exploitation of ideas. To support this, lean innovation processes can be guided continuously by KPI systems that preferably are based on digitally-generated data. By this in our understanding data-driven becomes a companion throughout all steps of innovation processes.
2. Actually we are quite often confronted with this argument. And while we admit that 15 years ago the possibilities to spot opportunities data-driven were quite limited compared to today, we believe Steve Jobs did his math to come up with the idea for the iPhone. Parts of the equation might have been:
A. The first works on touchscreens date back to 1965 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touchscreen) and
B. Blackberry released its first smartphone in 2002 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackBerry_OS).
So by adding up 1+1 Steve Jobs created so much more than 2, making the iPhone the standout case for successfully exploited ideas. But he did this by adding additional benefits to the core formula (esp. connecting it to changing consumer lifestyles globally) and not because he had a standout idea alone. He was just the genius who made it happen in a very close to perfect way.
Happy to stay in discussion,
Lars

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