In the 1920s, the life expectancy of a US company was 65 years. Today, it is less than ten!
Companies that do not embrace change, innovation and opportunity capture are destined for the scrap heap, or to be immersed in the mire of competitive bidding.
These are the facts.
But do not despair, the solution is at hand. It is real, practical, tried and proven and it’s all about understanding what innovation and opportunity capture mean, and moreover how you do them.
Further, the smaller the business, the easier it is since the political impediments present in large corporations are virtually non-existent.
Where to start?
First, accept that there is no product, process or service in the world that cannot in some way be innovated.
By that I mean changed in some way to add value. If you wish to disagree with that, what you are really saying is that what you do today will be the same in 100 or more years, which is clearly ridiculous.
So, accept that change is essential, and that change is possible, and let innovations abound. Further, this can be done in a structured way that is virtually guaranteed to yield results and perhaps surprisingly, the risks are almost nil.
Some Small Business Examples
Consider these cases where small companies have embraced change and scored massive wins:
- A company in Scotland that had just a single product in a competitive market: canoe paddles.
In a single workshop we “innovated” that product to add a New Function. The new paddle won international acclaim and propelled the business into the multimillion-dollar elite.
- A company in Melbourne that sold just one product in competition with Chinese imports: tent poles!
Believe it or not, this was their one and only product sold through some 239 retail outlets. One workshop later, the company commenced what we refer to as Channel Enhancement. It now has some five products, all new and all sold into the same channel. Before we started talking innovation and opportunity, this business had no idea of the value of its channel.
- Another company, a Milk Bar (Convenience store).
The owner implemented the innovation of Complementary Products. Within three years the owner turned his business into a gold mine and later sold it for five times what he had paid for it just a few years earlier.
- A session in Colombia with a company that sold small-diameter, 100mm-long drinking straws commonly used in that country to stir take-away coffee. (A ridiculous stirrer if ever I have seen one.)
Using the innovation tool of Frustration the new stirrer employed several enhancements that left competitors in its wake.
Examples of innovation and opportunity capture like this abound and can be applied to every product, process and service in the universe. These words, New Function, Channel Enhancement, Complementary Products and Frustration hold the key.
Just accept it and move on with the task.
Roger La Salle is the creator of the Matrix Thinking™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of three books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries.