Sunday 10 February 2013

Why Business Innovation Can Be Adhoc

It is a common misconception that great business plans are always pre-planned to absolute detail and follow a structured path leading to only one possible outcome. That is not always the case. 

YouTube started off as a video dating service that didn't really capture the minds of its users but the aspect of swapping videos stuck and a major social media entity was launched. Tiffany's started off as a New York stationery store and Twitter started life as a podcaster that became overshadowed by the likes of itunes.

In an era of new start ups, massive technological change and, in the case of retailing, a new customer mindset, we need to break new ground and that may mean that standard planning rules don't apply.

There is a growing belief that sticking to the script is less important than reading the signs and being flexible. So here is a possible scenario - 

  1. Plan your project and the steps needed to achieve it. 
  2. Take your first step and assess response. If it is positive, move on. If not, reassess, and be prepared to take a new direction. 
  3. Continue the process until you successfully reach a conclusion. 

String Bean Alley is probably a good example of a project needing innovative and flexible thinking. When customer flow refused to embrace the new add-on (and that may be its problem - adding on rather than integrating) a reassessment, and perhaps change of direction became necessary. String Bean Alley is to be the subject of a management reassessment as the new year starts and we wish it every success. 

Getting back to our original point - innovation isn't always predictable and having the flexibility to adjust your path is important. Reading the signs and changing direction isn't always a sign of poor management but rather a willingness to achieve the right result. This applies to our own businesses as much as the structures around us.