The Gold Left on the Table

The Gold Left on the TableWe always feel badly for clients of a full-cycle innovation project. After the many ideation and co-creation sessions, there are far too many viable concepts to pursue. In many cases, millions of dollars of market expansion, new products with tested, validated appeal, and new licensing opportunities get swept aside just because there are too many possibilities.

While we have formulas for figuring out the right mix for a product line portfolio, far too many concepts never get their stage time on the market.

Sometimes the products would transform the business from selling in one channel to selling in a different one. Other times a service brand could enter the market selling a hard product. Yet other times it is a revolution to a business model with investment risks—for example, a product-based company had a viable and feasible way to pilot test a service-based store that sold products. This move could have been the beginning to a franchising event that would have the potential to more than triple the growth. In another case a strong licensing partner could have taken a whole suite of new, branded products to a new market.

In all of these cases, gold is left on the table. All of the examples above hail from the myriad of our client mix, but it could equally well represent any firm with a serious innovation discipline.

Here’s the question: who is responsible for the gold left on the table, the aftermarket of valuable ideas? Because if no one is, they will wither away in a Final Report and your organization will never harvest the total value of its innovation efforts.

Should Innovation-centric firms create a new role? A Gold Sweeper. This person would work with all the various departments to see that the most viable ideas get the stage time and consideration not allotted at most organizations. Furthermore, they can formally document all of the gold left on the table.

The amount of value that never sees the light of day can be the catalytic driver of growth, if there is a process and person dedicated to seeing tested and viable concepts make it to the market.

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Michael Graber is the cofounder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis.

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