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  • Writer's pictureR. A. T. Lab

RAT's 10 Innovation Drivers

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Here we go - the 10 essential innovation drivers from the length and breadth of our experience! . Tell us about your experiences, we would love to hear and learn from you too!

1. Understand the eco-system with all stakeholders.

How do you navigate through diverging stakeholder interests?

Before we start developing ideas, it is important to understand the eco-system you are in. Using a mind map to outline all relevant stakeholders from the root – clients, and even the clients’ customer’s, partners, competitors, investors. Often enough, a competitor turns out to be a potential partner and the other way around.

Dare to look even deeper into the system and you get powerful insights about market behaviour and what defines it. You will also be able to detect relevant driving factors, such as the kind of technology influencing the segment you want to operate in. This will be your winning foundation for going ahead and having meaningful conversations with people that matter.


2. Be curious - Investigate all relevant realms

At the onset, the biggest obstacle is your own perspective on the very topic of your innovation. The assumptions we have are rarely the whole reality and hinder our ability to notice critical details necessary for success.

Be the curious cat in the corner, or adopt a zen-like-beginners mindset, reminding yourself to look. Be lead out of your own minds - what do we observe and what should we be observing? Banalities that could appear meaningless in the beginning turn out to be unexpectedly relevant. We have to learn to avoid our own prejudices and core beliefs. It is science - The Heisenberg uncertainty principles proves that the observer defines the results of research.


3. Ask Questions – challenge the self-evident

The types of questions you ask, sets the frame of the possible answers you get. We often ask questions with a pre-conceived answer in mind and are disappointed if we don’t hear what we expect.

A systemic view offers us a much broader context to ask open questions, learning to dig deeper with the answers to uncover richer insights in the context your research. Once you have understood the context better, the questions in stakeholder interviews are more probing of your hypothesis. This is a great way to get to the most relevant challenge to solve and the question you start with in ideation - much like the Point-of-View in Design Thinking.


4. Use what you have - As a basis, use what you have access to.

What do you have access to? Obviously all that see you, less obviously all the things you are overlooking.

The Titanic collided with an iceberg in the north Atlantic and sunk two hours and 40 minutes later for want of enough lifeboats – floating devices to ferry people to safety. Because of this, only 705 of the 2,200 survived. How many more might have lived if the captain and crew members had thought of other floating devices on board the ship - tires, tables, chairs, even the iceberg itself! The iceberg, a huge floating body, makes it as much a life-saving solution, as the cause of nautical disasters.

Harnessing the potential of what you have, begins with looking at things differently. Overcoming the phycological bias of traditional perceptions. One effective way of doing this is breaking down the object into its basic parts - a simple paper clip, when bent out of shape into its basic form of a wire presents many and far distanced uses from that of its original paper clipping function.

Often times, breaking down the parts of the problem world presents new and creative ways of noticing and using what is available to you!


5. Tie into personal motivations of your team - To achieve goals with your team, it is important to link overall objectives to the teams goals. Go further - link it to the individual goals of each team member.

Everybody has to understand and agree how each one contributes to the overarching objectives of the team and product/service.

As a team leader, if you know your team's interests and motivations you can work top down from the overarching goals to the individual objectives. Conversely, you can even develop them bottom up from the contribution of each team member to the overall goals.

This is how you make it personal. Make people relate. Make the team's success as much a success of every team member.


6. Oblige the Investors and management - but also make them accountable. With great privilege comes great responsibilities.

Whomever it is you rely on for support and funding, be it senior executives – if you are a corporate intrapreneur, or investors – if you are a startup founder, management of this stakeholder is imperative. They are investing their

money in you, believing there’s a good chance it will pay-off. Having clear lines-of-control,

yet obliging them with the power of decision-making in some areas, must also result in holding them accountable for the outcomes. Assign active roles and decisions to investors, that would be beneficial for the team and its progress. Make them as accountable as the rest of the team. Typically investors are part of governance.

Put lean metrics in place to measure their impact!


7. Learning over and over again is key, and an asset

Learning is the most reliable asset of any venture. The future will remain unknown territory, hard to predict and forecast. Going forward, the only thing that counts is to move, making decisions based on proof your hypotheses. Not on your beliefs. Not everything you are convinced about is the truth. Learning has to start with turning your beliefs into questions to prove or disprove your assumptions. Let every result and insight from your clients and markets be a verification or falsification of your hypothesis. Go ahead with every proven learning and then go on learning further!

Learnings are such powerful drivers for a successful future development, that even investors evaluate start-ups in assets of learnings and their ability to drive the future out of it.


8. Go back to your stakeholder analysis, perhaps you find a competitor that has the potential to turn into a partner. Take a look at the partners you had identified, which one of them is in the market and has contact to your potential clients? Ideally, one that you are not in direct competition with, rather one that could complement your offering and solution.

This step can be somewhat tedious and time consuming, entailing the re-work of your Business Model to combine partner services in new ways even changing the original strategy. These are points at which, real, lasting and differentiating value is created.

Every bit of magic 🌟 comes with a price, having access to customers is value - balance it with added value for all sides.


6. French writer Victor Hugo famously said that there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. A classic example is 1975 digital camera invented at Kodak. Not only was the timing not right at Kodak, but the infrastructure for digital cameras didn’t exist. Personal computers were a rarity, and there certainly wasn’t the capacity in them to store photos,

either in the cameras or on the computers of the day. It was only when both began to improve, some 30 years later that digital cameras began to gain traction.

As an individual organisation, what you can do to assess timing is to ensure you have a good grasp of the wider ecosystem you operate in, to be able to sense the changes in the market that are instrumental in making innovations succeed (or fail).

Placing, matters just as much! Where are your early adopters - those currently facing the problem and are looking for a solution to the problem you address. How do you reach them, what could make you appealing to them?

When that placing and timing have been sufficiently explored and validated, be agile enough internally to respond rapidly.

Timing and placing take diligent preparation. Persevere at them, don’t give up!


10. Innovation may be a necessary condition for success, but it is by no means sufficient. Winners require innovation and discipline.

The one ingredient that characterised winners – the companies that may not have come up with an idea first, but who made it work. It is not just the discipline to iterate a creative idea into a rigorous solution, it is also the discipline to get the manufacturing process perfect, the supply lines faultless, delivery seamless.

🌟 Gillette didn’t pioneer the safety razor, Star did.

🌟 Polaroid didn’t pioneer the instant camera, Dubroni did.

🌟 Microsoft didn’t pioneer the personal computer spreadsheet, VisiCorp did.

🌟 Amazon didn’t pioneer online bookselling

Put #Do on your To do list today! Keep at it, with focus and discipline.


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