While COVID19 has made life challenging for millions of people, it also offers many new opportunities. How do you know yours is the right project at the right time? Is this the time to invest in a new COVID19 practice group? Is this the time to make your telemedicine clinic a permanent feature? Is this the time for digital transformation?
Timing is everything
I don't have a crystal ball to answer these questions with absolute certainty. However, I do know that in order to be successful in acting upon any of these opportunities, your clients, your organization, and you, need to be ready. And from helping hundreds of teams through the innovation process, we know what this readiness entails.
There is a broader system that must be emerging or in place. You would like to "drive on a paved road" as opposed to "chopping through the jungle with a machete," so to speak.
Is the market ready?
You have probably heard the saying, "don't try to time the market." Timing in this context is about predicting when the broader stock market will increase or decline. Although it is sound advice to not try to time the broader stock market, it is absolutely essential that you time the market as it relates to the new offering you are developing.
Take for example Airbnb and Uber that came up during the 2008 crisis during a time period where shared services were quickly growing in popularity. If these companies would have been launched now, in a time of social distancing, they would not have stood a chance.
As serial entrepreneur Bill Gross explains in the Ted Talk above, timing is everything. It explains 42% of success:
When it comes to market timing, you can be lucky, or you can be good.
It is possible to have good luck and intersect a great market opportunity, but it is always better if you can 'look over the horizon' of the market and see broader trends that will positively or negatively impact your ability to drive a rapidly growing business.
Although you can never predict with pinpoint accuracy when a market will ignite, you can have a pretty good idea what will happen in the next time window of a couple of years.
To find that out, you can do PESTEL and 5-Forces analyses. But invaluable in this research, are conversations with your clients. However, not just any conversation. These are conversations in which you listen and let your client do most of the talking. You want them to express their concerns and visions for the (near) future. Clients won't share such information if there is even the slightest notion that you are engaging them in a sales conversation.
Conferences were a great way to strike up these types of conversations. Now, with everyone being isolated, it is more difficult but certainly not impossible to have such conversations. It just asks for much more deliberate action. You need to be deliberate in reaching out and deliberate in making sure that the conversation is for you to listen and learn, and not to sell.
Are you ready?
A close second on Bill Gross's list is the team/execution. You want to take advantage of the competition's inability to currently address the customer pain point because it would give you a huge advantage.
But are you ready? Are you ready and prepared to ride this next wave?
The best way to prepare is to start small. For example start with an internal improvement project first, before creating a multidisciplinary new practice group to handle COVID19 issues for your clients, or to build a new telemedicine practice. Those are pretty big undertakings to set up successfully from scratch. However, the question is, will you have time for such thorough preparation?
If not, seek support for the execution, for example from a program like our T4 online innovation training program.
An innovation project asks for a time commitment and you want to make sure you are set up for success.
At Organizing4Innovation we have developed a readiness assessment you can use to check if you are set up for success. Are you ready?
Last but not least, is your organization ready?
All too often, we see individual innovators take on an amazing project in their organization, but without the buy-in of their leadership. They move ahead because that seems the only way to get something done.
I have been in that exact same boat. I thought, "if I just show how it can be done, the organization will see the benefits and they will finally listen". That is not how it works, unfortunately.
The execution of an innovation project is never flawless. Somewhere along the line there will be a hick-up and something will go wrong. That is part of the process and not a problem if your project is well-embedded in the organization and has a strong champion at the top. They will understand, believe in the team, and help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
However, if you are on the innovation challenge all by yourself, even the slightest bump in the road will already be problematic. It will be used against you as evidence that your plan was not that sound after all.
That is why obtaining organizational buy-in for your innovation project is so important. If your clients and you are ready, but your organization isn't, you are setting yourself up for failure.
For the organization this is not a good outcome either. As you probably can guess what happens with these talented innovators. They will leave and become successful elsewhere.
The right project at the right time
While reading this blog, you may wonder how to pull of your innovation project successfully.
Trust me, it can be done. It starts with taking action. Because if you don't act upon a possible opportunity, you certainly will miss out.
To make sure you put your time and energy in the right opportunity, check with your clients first. Listen to their problems and concerns. More information on how to engage your clients in this customer discovery process can be found in the list with related readings below.
Then, gear up a team to get your project going. And while doing that, see getting organizational buy-in as one of the tasks you need to be working on.
I can assure you, results will follow if you go after each opportunity this deliberately.