Why innovation is crucial for growth – the do’s and don’ts.
Being in business means staying one step ahead of the game. And on this week’s episode of The Wired for Growth Sessions, we’re chatting about innovation with Dries Roekaerts - VP Global Gourmet at Barry Callebaut - and Lode Avet – co-founder of agency Berlin. From why it’s important to know if an innovation can be done well, to how a growth strategy has to be internally owned. We’re covering it all.
Business & innovation: what’s in a name?
Each day new products, methods, and ideas hit the market. But is that really all there is to innovation? In reality, it’s a word with many different definitions. As a B2B business, Barry Callebaut actually focusses on the end consumer. Because, they expect the next thing to be the next BIG thing. Over the years, they realized that in-house new product ideas, focus groups and market potential don’t always reflect the needs and wants of their end consumer.
“It’s about connecting with your end consumer earlier on in the process. And taking a broader view of their lives: how do they interact with your product, how does it fit into their lives, workflow… A method I call ‘purpose to experience’.” – Lode Avet
That’s why your innovation strategy has to be both top-down and bottom-up. If management doesn’t provide guidance and direction or doesn’t remove barriers for innovation, it’s very hard for individual teams to innovate in the context of a large organization. On the other hand: Innovation needs to be owned and driven by your teams and also by external partners. In the case of Callebaut, those are the top pastry chefs they collaborate with.
Don’t underestimate the knowledge your salespeople have either, since they are the closest to your customer. Both your salesforce and your partners have a good feeling of what’s going on in the market. The R&D department can use their sound information to create innovations that meet the customer’s needs. The challenge is to connect both worlds successfully.
So, are your ready to create a leading innovation? Discover what works and what doesn’t.
Innovation: the do’s
- DO see the bigger picture
Successful innovations have an impact. They change the way we do things or they change the way we think. And by that logic even the smallest innovations can be turned into wins. Dream big! You need to see the bigger picture in order to have the power to market them correctly and maybe even make them larger than originally intended. See it as an opportunity to create potential for both your end-consumer as for your own brand.
- DO ask yourself if it can be done well
First ask yourself if it can be done. If the answer is a positive one, your next question should be: Can it be done well? Do you have the resources to execute your original idea, without watering it down? Don’t let the forces of mediocrity, speed to market … force you into compromising, because it will only increase the risk of failure. So, don’t forget to keep the customer at the core of everything.
- DO sum up your idea into 3 very powerful words
From a communication perspective, simple should trump complex. Reducing complex ideas into simple messages is one of the keys to successful innovation. “This is obvious. Why didn’t I think of it?” is what your customers should say.
Innovation: the don’ts
- DON’T try to do too many things at once.
Venturing into industries or products you’re not familiar with, can be a real pitfall. So focus on your business core and align your strategy with it. Because that’s where you can make the most impact. The message: Be the best of your kind.
- DON’T just keep waiting
Most innovation projects take longer to realise than expected. But a lot of delays are also caused by simply waiting. Like waiting for the right moment to go to market. Every now and then, take a calculated risk and be a market leader who has a relentless appetite for innovation.
Stop thinking that innovation is the responsibility of a select group of people and start giving teams the freedom to think, explore and challenge the status quo. Develop a culture of innovation that’s owned internally, on all levels.” – Dries Roekaerts
- DON’T think that innovation is just a CEO’s job
It’s actually everyone’s job. Most people in companies don’t see themselves as innovators and that can be a bit of a problem. And sometimes it’s even discouraged by management to come up with new ideas. “Stop thinking that innovation is the responsibility of a select group of people and start giving teams the freedom to think, explore, and challenge the status quo. Develop a culture of innovation that’s owned internally, on all levels.” says Dries Roekaerts.
Want to know more about Barry Callebaut’s innovation process and score some more expert tips? This episode is for you. But be warned: some of the answers may surprise you. Listen to it now on Spotify, Apple iTunes or Stitcher.