Little Book of Innovation – Chapter 8 – How To Future-Proof Your Innovation
How To Future-Proof Your Innovation
Protecting the longevity & profitability of business means ensuring that the cultural working environment is both robust & flexible enough to respond rapidly & efficiently to changing circumstances, positive & negative. It is important to create & maintain an innovative, supportive culture which works towards creating predictable success.
How do we initiate this?
By Improving Understanding
Most people believe that innovation starts with a great idea, in reality all innovation has to fulfil an un-met need. Never underestimate your consumer, today’s consumer trends help identify tomorrow’s consumer needs.
Ensure that you have the relevant tools & techniques in place to capture future macro & micro changes affecting both your product & your customers’ lifestyles. This can be established by conducting consumer research & keeping abreast with current global & industry specific trend reports.
By Maximising Your Resource
Understand how to harness your greatest resources – your community: employees, colleagues, consultants, beneficiaries, other stakeholders, yourself.
Create a learning organisation that harnesses the experience & knowledge of your community: individually & collectively; use this to deliver on vision & action planning.
Explore techniques of creating organisational models that will better communicate & accomplish your chosen change strategies.
By Utilising External Partners
Establish & maintain open communication channels, creating opportunities for enhanced engagement with suppliers, potential partners & other stakeholders.
A good example of future-proofing a product is to make it sustainable
In line with this macro trend, let’s take the example of underused cuts of meat: exemplified perfectly in the demand for pig cheeks & belly pork, products that once upon a time would be wasted but are now sought after. Initially gaining recognition from the ‘nose to tail’ movement, advocate Fergus Henderson, St John Restaurant; now mainstream & commonly found in retailer premium product ranges.
There is continued growth in this arena with ‘fin to gill’ products such cod cheeks & monkfish collar, to name a few, also featuring more prominently across menus & retailer product ranges.
Process alongside ingredient can also present opportunities to future-proof your products: a rising interest in (ancient) cooking techniques such as pickling, fermenting & smoking for preservation, offer avenues to give your product greater sustainability credentials; numerous restaurants now follow a sustainable ethos &, as we saw, with pig cheeks & pork belly these principals are seeping across into the mass market as consumer awareness increases.
Check out brands such as @rubiesintherubble @scrapples_snacks @toastale all using ingredients that once would have been deemed as ‘waste’, riding the sustainable macro trend & making great tasting products.
Don’t Forget To…
Stop & Understand
As manufacturers we are in a position to shape the market & turn a once unfashionable product into something desirable. Take the pork belly example: once a throw-away cut, championed by a handful of reputable chefs, became a food fashion, now mainstream.
Ingredients such as ham hock & lamb shank have seen similar growth patterns. But remember, only by fully understanding & appreciating the market can successful innovation occur.
Resist The ‘Quick Solution’
Look into wider global issues, consider consumer feedback, then direct your innovation. Stories like driving the demand for pig cheeks may not always be the easiest or cheapest solution to launching a new product, but with persistence they have achieved longevity, a sustainable product. Plus, the added bonus of a fantastic corporate story into the bargain.
By establishing a deep understanding of your supply chain, the innovation process & how to create demand for a product are key lessons to understand if your goal is creating sustainable businesses & brands.
Looking at & understanding whole systems is key to creating successful, sustainable innovation, instead of solutions that make western consumers feel good but do nothing to correct underlying problems.
This deeper thinking builds resilient, future-proof brands & moves you closer to a sustainable business model