We’re living through a time of uncertainty, and it has created so many unknowns in business. From small organizations to big brands, everyone is facing disruption from factors like workplace transitions, the “Great Resignation,” massive supply chain disruptions, inflation, and increasing market volatility.
But I believe there’s opportunity in moments of disruption. Opportunity to re-evaluate and reset. Opportunity to come out even stronger on the other side.
The more that we pay attention to what's happening, the better we can position ourselves to think innovatively and grow market share.
Innovation is the intentional and continuous curation of ideas that disrupt and redefine an existing concept, product, service, or solution. It involves exponential improvement.
In this article, I’ll discuss the innovative qualities and skills to develop in your team, along with a model for innovation that you can implement within your firm.
Qualities of the Innovation Mindset
Innovative organizations are willing to try new endeavors. They embrace innovation and experimentation as a part of the fabric of their culture.
As you analyze where your firm is today and where you would like to be in the future, consider your hiring practices and who is on your team. You want to look for, and train for, qualities of the innovation mindset. These qualities include:
Embracing healthy disruption – continuous or conscious innovation with intentionality. This is critical to your clients and firm.
Smart agility – the ability to strategically and decisively pivot in the best interest of your clients and firm. But agility has a tipping point. Pivoting too much can create chaos and change fatigue.
Purposeful productivity – make smart choices about where technology can assist you. The goal is to take focus away from things that you may have done manually in the past and repurposing that time in a more productive way.
Forward failure – become friends with failure. Welcome it, take the learnings from it, and use it to propel yourself forward.
Anticipatory questioning – ask thoughtful questions about what is happening with a particular situation. Look around the corner to anticipate potential opportunities or roadblocks.
Why before how – When considering a potential opportunity or challenge, understand why it would be important to you as a leader. Why would it be important to your firm? And why would it be important to your clients?
Innovation Evaluation Model
Think about practice innovation—bringing new ideas and services to market. The Innovation Evaluation Model will guide you through an internal due diligence process.
The qualification categories include:
Value to the client and market
Value to us
Current State Viability
Future State Viability
Minimum viable pilot
Return on the Investment (financial and otherwise)
By using this model, the goal is for the new idea to meet enough of the qualification criteria from your firm’s perspective that you place it in the top right quadrant. That will tell you if you should try a proof of concept or pilot. In the top left quadrant, you’d place something that is high value to you, but maybe not to your clients or to the market. What might be missing from your equation that would put it into the right quadrant?
What if the idea lands in the bottom left? It is not quite the right fit of where you want to put your time, talent, and resources. You can use this as a litmus test. If you determine it is not high value after performing some due diligence, you might pause or just put it in the no-go category. Lastly, if you place the opportunity in the bottom right, there might be other factors to consider or other types of viability for this innovation.
Innovation Evaluation Model: Questions to Ask
You can pair the Innovation Evaluation Model with the following primary and secondary questions.
Primary: What? Why? Who?
Secondary: When? Where? How?
Can I easily articulate the innovation idea?
What’s exciting about this idea? Who would be excited about it?
What’s the value to our firm, our clients, our people, the industry?
What is the return on this potential investment?
What resources will we need?
When we’re disrupted so often and thoroughly, we can find ourselves in survival mode. Remember, we can’t go back; we can only go forward. It is our choice to move forward with optimism and innovation, in the service of our clients and firm.
If you’re curious to learn more, I discussed this topic further during the Driving Digital Transformation webinar series. Watch the recording on demand.