Think of ‘innovation’ and names like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergei Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk come to mind. Research innovative brands and at the top of Fast Company’s list are Buzzfeed, Facebook, Uber, Netflix, Amazon and Apple. So how do these people and brands make it to the notoriety list?
Are you good at strategic innovation?
Ask yourself – does your business have a clearly defined method of making money? Have you plotted a path or charted a roadmap as to the next steps you need to take to enable your business to stay competitive?
To remain at the forefront of your industry or market niche it’s important to instil some practices that help ensure you continually evolve. What do you do to bring positive change into your business? How are you successfully innovating on your current business model? Rather than just innovating for the sake of it, make sure that when you add new products, services or features, that you are truly stretching your thinking and focusing on ways you can ‘strategically innovate’.
Strategic innovation is about striving that bit higher. It’s about ensuring that, when you do develop new products or services, you are building brand new value propositions into your business, and along side these, better processes.
Knowledge is power – or is it?
You’ve no doubt heard the saying ‘Knowledge is power’. But is it really? Tony Robbins turns this saying on its head with his view that “Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is potential power. What makes someone successful is execution. Execution trumps knowledge every day.”
I’ve held the view for some time that ideas and information are only as good as what you do with them. It’s relatively easy to come up with ideas. In fact I know plenty of people that come up with and consider the same ideas. But the clincher in my mind is actually being able to execute these ideas and make them happen. Executing an idea is a whole other story.
Case Study – Grocery Shopping
Let’s take grocery shopping for example…
Grocery shopping has always been a chore and a necessary evil in my mind and I am almost certain that this is a common theme in most people’s lives. Several years ago, I was considering the idea of setting up a new shopping experience where you could order your weekly meals online and have fresh produce delivered, along with a recipe card and sachets of herbs, spices and condiments. The proposition being that you still got to enjoy cooking a fresh meal at home, but the decision as to what to cook and the effort of sourcing the ingredients was done for you.
I even went as far as to envision the food trucks that would deliver the food packages to workers in the city before they headed home of an evening. This would be a lifestyle enhancement, for people that were city based, time poor, who wanted to have healthy eating decisions made for them.
Executing the idea
In recent years I’ve seen this idea executed in a few different ways, and also had the chance to be part of its execution to some degree when I worked on the mobile apps for Woolworths Supermarket.
Execution 1 – Michelle Bridges 12WBT offering
Seeking out a better way to manage my meals and get back into shape after having children, like many mums I participated in Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation (12WBT). I enjoyed this programme because Michelle and her team pre-plan your weekly meals and produce a printable shopping list. Then all you have to do is find the cheapest places to purchase the food and cook at home.
Michelle has gone a long way to making meal planning less of a chore, and I truly believe her business offers one of, if not the best training on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The only downside is that you still have to do the grocery shopping!
Execution 2 – Coles and Woolworths online shopping experience
In 2014, whilst working with the Woolworth’s mobile applications team, I thought ‘finally I can help solve that grocery problem I’ve been pondering for years’. Woolworths, being such a large organisation, with ten’s of thousands of products to sell or ‘cram’ into their online shopping tools, were held back in their ability to be able to iterate on their ideas at a speed needed for true innovation because of their size and legacy shopping experiences.
The team I worked with at the time were going through a redesign of the online shopping sites. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to strategically innovate so we simply chose to close the gap between choosing what to cook and buying the ingredients, by adding several feature enhancements.
A selection of Jamie Oliver’s recipes and Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT program were added to the Woolworths shopping experience so that as a shopper we could, at the click of a button, add the ingredients to your web or mobile shopping cart.
Note my description of the customer being the ‘shopper’. Again, this is not strategic innovation because we still need to choose and order your entire grocery shop each week. Food can be delivered to our front doors, but we still have to log in regularly to make decisions and place orders to ensure food arrives.
Execution 3 – Pre-set food shopping orders, but I still have to login
Meanwhile, I’ve had my eye on other industry players, who have been strategically innovating a lot faster than the two big behemoth supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles. Aldi, HelloFresh, Harris Farm Markets and Aussie Farmers Direct were three that have been on my radar and are talked about by many people in my social network.
My go to food app these days is Aussie Farmers Direct. I love their proposition. They deliver fresh produce from the farm to my doorstep twice a week. The clincher for me is their ‘set and forget’ arrangement. You simply choose what food items you want to be delivered on a Monday and Thursday and this repeats weekly, removing the chore of re-entering my grocery shop each week.
Execution 4 – My idea arrives, and it’s better than what I’d envisioned
Most recently I’ve been excited to see my original idea of the meal boxes become available. Farmers Direct has forged an exclusive partnership with Weight Watchers and are now distributing what they call a WW freshbox. These meal boxes contain fruit and vegetables, meats and meal cards for 2 or 4 people.
Weight Watchers have made the meal choice for me and Farmers Direct have provided the ingredients and distribution channel. I enjoy the surprise of what’s on the menu each week, I don’t have to make the meal choices for my entire family, instead I am left with the pleasurable part of cooking fresh healthy meals at home. And even better, I can offload this task of cooking to another member of our family some days.
The most exciting part for me is the fact that my weekly shopping chore is gone, goneski, no more! My shopping is now significantly reduced to just a few additional housekeeping items I need to pick up every 3 to 4 weeks. A much smaller list of items and less frequent task.
Finally, that idea, which many people and businesses had explored, has been executed in a way that turned my whole shopping experience on its head.
Well done Farmers Direct. I look forward to the next round of strategic innovation that will take the need away from ever having to visit the supermarket, full stop!