We usually get it wrong. When trying to predict the path of innovations – which ones are hype, which ones are real, which ones will take hold, and which ones will fall out of favor – our record, as humans, is poor. We think this is because, in the study of innovation, people overlook a critical factor.
By now, education was supposed to have been thoroughly disrupted. While digital platforms are great for disseminating knowledge, they are terrible at demonstrating what knowledge you have to others. For that, a credential from a respected institution can’t be beat.
In my first article of this series on strategic openings, I covered three of the seven strategies successful companies used to create disruptive innovations that set them apart from the competition.
Understanding investor psychology can be baffling and frustrating for the managers of publicly traded corporations. For instance, despite what many would regard as a stellar track record of proven performance, CEO Mark Fields was fired at Ford. Apparently, the company’s success at making vehicles like its 150 truck the ride of choice for wealthy Americans (even besting longstanding luxury brands such as BMW and Audi) combined with Field’s determination not to be left behind by potential disruptions in the mobility business just weren’t enough.
In chess, successful players know that a strong opening can give them the advantage to win the game. In fact, studies have shown that Grandmaster chess players often draw on something entirely “un-logical” from their playbook to create an unexpected opening. This is what gives them an early competitive edge over their opponent.
A study by one of my former professors at London Business School found that “Only 55% of the middle managers we have surveyed can name even one of their company’s top five priorities.”
I’m writing this on a Monday morning as I work my email to juggle a complicated week. Though I have delivered versions of my Outthinker Process program perhaps a few hundred times now and am supposed to be an expert, I realize I still need reminders. It’s so easy to lose the “strategic clarity” that comes out of the IDEAS process (Imagine, Dissect, Expand, Analyze, Sell).
Your ability to innovate depends on your ability to conceive of new strategic options, which in turn is a function of the number and variety of stories you recognize. When you face a challenge and ask, “What does Porter’s Five Forces tell me to do?” or “What does Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation model dictate?” you end up defaulting to what others – your competitors, your peers – would do as well. Instead, use our IDEAS framework – specifically the “Expand” step – as the key to getting out of that rut.
In our last blog, we argued that great strategies stem from impossible questions, typically a long-term one (e.g., Tesla’s how to create an electric vehicle the every-day consumer can afford?) and a near-term one (e.g., today Tesla’s might be how to establish the capacity to manufacture at scale?).
Why are so many breakthrough strategic possibilities killed off before they see the light of day? Years of research have provided us insight into the mistakes teams make that tend to kill off the most exciting ideas.