Many organizations are spending a fortune to help predict the future for them and their surroundings. Having a competitive position and sustainable growth requires such investments. As obvious as this seems, in our innovation work at The DeSai Group, we find most organizations lack the art and the discipline to do this well. Most organizations rely on expensive research from outside, or rely on a more recent trend such as “Voice of The Customer” to help predict the future. Most organizations follow the same basic research and analytical resources (such as McKenzie, or Gartner Group, or IDC, etc.) as if that was the only truth to the future. I am not saying these resources and the reports they generate are of no value - on the contrary. They have value, but it is not enough. In fact, it might create negative patterns and limit your window to the future. Most leaders have relegated the tough task of predicting the future to someone else. That is poor leadership. That is not being innovative and lacks true sponsorship for innovation.
Let me take a seemingly trivial example. I’ve been going to a health club since 1985 and was an avid tennis player before that - until I had few operations on my left knee about ten years ago. I remember jogging to stay fit back then, as I still do today. Back then, it seemed that I was mostly alone when jogging. Today if you go to a health club, a local jogging track, Hyde Park in London, or The Jogger’s Park in Mumbai, you could run into a stampede. Trivial, but not so if you are Nike. Today, running shoe category is one of the fastest growth line in the shoe business.
Reflecting on my experience, this signal was about a change in values and attitudes. This is a startling reality and an eye-opener for me. I asked myself, how come I didn’t see this inner-shift in people’s value system sooner? Not only do we have trouble forecasting economic and political change like the oil crisis, but we also treat values and attitudes as if they never change.
Therefore, the $64,000 question is “What is invisible that is invisible?” How many of these patterns are around us today that cannot be seen and are unknown, but right under our nose? How do we identify them before they reach the center of the bell curve, where it ultimately lands on a Commodity Island?
Innovation Prompt #1: How can you and your organization bring early attention to weak signals – weak signals that are about to double in frequency and amplitude, before someone else in your industry does? At The DeSai Group, we call this developing “Deep Insights”. Deep Insights can reveal knowledge that can build differentiated innovation platforms – group of ideas that can either grow the top-line or improve efficiencies. Deep Insights can also reveal potentially disastrous situations to avoid as well. There are disciplined tools and methods, just like any other process, to help you see these unknown patterns – right under your nose!
Innovation Prompt#2: Other strategic question to explore is “What is known now that was previously unknown? Thus, trying to uncover concepts and descriptors, as in this case, “values, beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes”. How are values created? What are the difference between individual’s values, organizational values, societal values, human values, and moral values? How are these related? How are they created? What impacts changes to individual values within your constituencies – leaders, employees, customers, and other stakeholders? To what extent do they change or stay the same? What are their effects on our dynamic and evolving future? How do they link to the new climate and culture you want to build for your organization?
Got ideas or a Deep Insight? Let’s Talk.