Sunday 10 December 2017

The 70-20-10 Rule of Innovation

There has probably never been a time when innovation has been thrust so forcibly on Queen Victoria Market Traders as right now. A retail revolution, a market renewal, and changing economic conditions, all combine to challenge the way we operate. So where do we look, what do we do, how far do we innovate? This 70-20-10 rule may be a useful guide.

An article in Inc. magazine recently referred to the 70-20-10 rule in relation to large organisations like Google and IBM and we reckon it makes sense for market traders.

70% Sustaining Innovation - improving what you currently have, working on your core strengths and making them better. Standing still is never a good thing, and as a retailer you remain relevant by tweaking, improving, and remaining in touch with (or exceeding) your customer expectations.

20% Exploring - this is looking for the associated products and services that may lead you into the future. A business my family used to be involved made grease guns for cars. That was back in the day when every vehicle had multiple greasing points to keep all the moving parts lubricated. As lubricants improved and bearings were sealed for life, they had to move into new areas like fuel pumps and associated automotive products to remain relevant.

10% for the Big Changes. Drastic innovation is full of risk but even the biggest companies in the world have been forced to make the big step into something new, sometimes something completely different. A mobile phone company I was following on the ASX recently announced it was moving into surgical treatments and equipment, a completely different field, but one which they saw with growth potential. Time will tell whether that move works for them.

So innovation means you don’t stand still. And obviously you don’t neglect your core business by just chasing the next big thing. Like many things in life it is smart to establish a balance and when it comes to innovation, 70-20-10 seems to make a lot of sense.

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