Your Innovation Team is Bigger Than You Think
I recently exchanged emails with a newly-promoted Market Strategist about how to Innovate on Purpose. The discussion had to do with building an internal innovation team beyond design and development.
My advice? Include your company's experts on pricing, contracts, distribution and delivery in all phases of your innovation workflow, just as you would development. Solicit their advice about what's evolving, interesting and emerging in their area of expertise. There are three good reasons to do this:
#1: Innovation Isn't Always Achieved with New Product Features
As a matter of fact, many disruptors grab the market because they price, sell or deliver the same product in a different way than the incumbent. When Netflix beat Blockbuster, they offered the exact same product: DVD rentals. But Netflix sold subscriptions and didn't charge the universally hated late fees that were one of Blockbuster's big weaknesses.
#2: Options for Innovation Change Over Time
The experts in your company know what's possible, because they keep abreast of innovation in their area of expertise. We know this is true with development: years ago, it was impossible to conceive of building software that small businesses could afford. Happily, cloud computing and other "enabling innovation" paved the way for cost-effective software builds and updates. Just as the options for development change over time, so do pricing options, selling options and options for customer support. It's a smart Market Strategist who taps the experts around them for updates on what's possible.
#3: Markets Change in Ways Features Don't Address
How people want to buy products has certainly changed over time - just look at how grocery shopping changed post-COVID. During COVID, many people had groceries delivered to their homes to avoid being in crowded stores. But when COVID risk receded, a lot of those shoppers continued with grocery delivery for the sake of convenience. B2B buyers are also much more likely to buy software and other business tools without ever speaking to a sales rep today than they were even five years ago. Changing preferences for online buying, product comparison and customer service can't be overlooked by intentional innovators.
Expand your innovation team, and you expand your opportunity to innovate.
About the Author
Diane Pierson is the Founder and Principal Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product innovation for tech companies through strategic focus and powerful go-to-market strategies. Diane is also a visiting instructor at Pragmatic Institute. Contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org.