Allow Innovation Exercises to Expand Business Model
As your innovation efforts begin to move from the ideation to the testing phase, or the co-creation with consumers or customers, outlandish and disruptive concepts present themselves. As messy as children arriving, they show up, saying “feed me, let me scream at the top of my lungs, I’m uncivilized” all without speaking.
Don’t be put off by how wild or unconventional they may be at first. Remember, breakthrough thinking sits right next to insanity, or as we in the trade say, “awesome sits right next to ridiculous.”
Instead of having a knee-jerk overreaction to something novel, practice non-judgment on some of your discernment filters. Even if the concepts do not fit your current business model that doesn’t mean you cannot capitalize on the insight in a number of ways.
Here are three viable models to consider whereby you can realize the value of the more seemingly “out there” innovations that arise as a natural part of the process.
First, if the market seems big enough and you have resources to deploy, start a new branch of your business. This could mean a product company selling as a subscription rather than at retail, or starting an e-commerce only channel for a specific product. Or, it could mean a service business launching a product line. Or, a product company could pilot a store with an eye to growing it into a franchise business.
Second, maybe you can license your brand to a key partner for this particular concept. You’ve already developed the idea and complete market testing on it, and therefore have a realistic grasp on the market desirability and technical feasibility. Make sure this scenario is a win-win—that your partner has something to gain and also already has something key that you do not, whether it be channel distribution or technological expertise. A good licensing partner can make a good concept a great success.
Third, think brand marriage. Find a good relationship with a brand that makes a good marriage; think of Cole Haan using Nike insoles or Apple using Intel chips. So many examples come to mind where the best of each company becomes part of a whole offering.
The main thesis here is don’t toss away good concepts because they don’t fit your existing business model. If you invest the time and energy, you can reap a bigger harvest than your current paradigm allows. Think broadly.
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Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.
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