Key to Innovation? A Good Story

Key to Innovation? A Good Story
困难 2520


Key to Innovation? A Good Story

"A company without a story is a company without a strategy."
 — Ben Horowitz

The digital revolution has given birth to a new generation of networked consumers with big imaginations and even bigger appetites for innovation. It's not surprising, then, that 90 percent of global executives and 88 percent of U.S. executives believe that innovation is a strategic priority and more than a third see product/service innovation as a key growth pathway in 2014 .

Many have already improved their company's innovative capabilities by boosting their technology investments, altering R&D processes, or creating a team of internal accelerators wholly focused on bringing newness to consumers.

But despite all of the interest and investment, the output looks more like, well, more of the same, just with a few incremental improvements. What consumers really crave is a disruptive innovation—one that creates new solutions and introduces new ideas and experiences. They want something that captures the imagination and catalyzes change.

We can't put the blame for a lack of innovation on incrementalism alone. There is something more fundamental at play when it comes to the the dearth of disruptive innovation in large companies. But what is it?

Let's look at a handful of smaller companies that are driving the kind of disruptive innovation that is capturing the hearts, minds and wallets of today's consumers.

Airbnb began when a couple of guys couldn't pay their rent, blew up a few air mattresses in the living room, and charged $80 a piece for them. They took that idea and turned it company worth more than $10 billion — a valuation that surpasses even hotel giant Hyatt .

Uber started as a niche transportation service in San Francisco and now operates in more than 70 cities. It is one of the fastest growing companies in the world.

Mobile payments company Square allows anyone to accept credit cards. Founded only four years ago, it has established partnerships with Starbucks and Whole Foods and garners 15 times more attention than comparable companies in the mobile payments space .

While in very different categories, these startups have been able to do what most large companies haven't — and not just because they're smaller and more nimble. They're successful because they have an authentic and meaningful story, and they use it to fuel and focus innovation. Here are their respective stories:

·Airbnb is creating a new, communal way to travel by connecting people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.

·Uber is evolving the way the world moves by seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, making cities more accessible and opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.

·Square is simplifying commerce for everyone by rethinking how people exchange value — from hardware to pricing structure to payments.

Having and knowing your story is critical to doing business today. It helps you know who and what you are for, and it enables you to create new offerings, enter new categories and even change the world.

Unfortunately, many senior business executives, CFOs and CEOs inside large companies believe that right-brain inputs like "story" are soft and subjective, and therefore it can't, doesn't or shouldn't drive innovation. What's more, they believe story should be left to the marketing department — that story is only important when it's done through advertising. This flawed thinking is what's keeping larger companies from keeping pace with smaller, scrappier startups. And it will ultimately lead to their decline and obsolescence.

There are, however, a handful of large companies that are behaving more like scrappy startups. Nike, for example, has a clear and compelling story, which it uses to drive innovation throughout the company. When I add up all the actions Nike has taken in the past few years (Nike+ running app and Fuelband, NIKEiD, Kinect Training, Fuel Lab, among others), I would guess their story sounds something like this:
?Nike brings inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world by creating physical and digital tools, equipment and motivation for athletes to achieve their true potential.

·Nike's story doesn't explicitly mention shoes, even though they are an iconic part of what Nike does. And like the startup stories above, Nike's story describes not only what the company is today, but also what it will become tomorrow. And ultimately, the innovative actions it might pursue to make their stories true and real in the world.

So what can other large companies do to get back in the disruptive innovation game?

First, they must define their story — like Nike, they must create a core narrative around which the entire company, not just marketing, makes decisions. Second, they should make sure their story defines an ambition beyond commercial aspiration.

There is compelling evidence that companies that focus on innovation goals beyond solely making more profit drive better results than companies that just look at the bottom line. Former P&G global marketing officer Jim Stengel puts it this way: "Those who center their business on improving people's lives have a growth rate triple that of their competitors, and they outperform the market by a huge margin." And third, they should use their story to drive action and innovation throughout the company.

Not every "scrappy startup" has an authentic narrative, and many will never achieve the heights of success that Uber, Airbnb and Square have. But the small startups that are moving the needle can teach even the biggest organizations how to get their groove back: Start with story and you're on your way to creating a company and a culture capable of driving disruptive innovation.
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  • 易读度:困难
  • 来源: 2016-09-30