Innovation Interview: Transforming Ideas into Winning Market Strategies
In our Innovation Interview series, each week we talk to thought leaders, inspirers, and innovators in the industry to pick their brains about the state of innovation, trends, and what’s in store for the future. This week we caught up with Peter Murane, Founder & CEO, Brandjuice, to discuss the keys to transforming ideas into winning market strategies.
What is the key to transforming ideas into market winning strategies?
Murane: Only move your best ideas forward. The ones that excite consumers and customers. The ones that are deeply rooted in unmet marketplace needs and category trends. The ones that are connected to your company's competencies and that will build both revenue and margin.
How does design thinking improve innovation?
Murane: We live in the experience economy so thinking deeply about how the lives of potential customers would be enhanced through innovation must be job one. With innovation, we can't adopt the mindset of "I'm here to sell you things" but rather "I'm here in service to you." That service mindset requires deep listening and observation to feed a thoughtful and inspired design thinking process built around both possibility and problem-solving.
Why are customers key driving factors in the market success or failure of new products and services?
Murane: Customers have strategic objectives too. But manufacturers often don't include them in the innovation process until it's time to "sell". That's a mistake. Your best customers want to be involved. They want you to help them grow their categories versus being treated as "gate keepers" to the consumer. We encourage co-creation of innovation strategy and concepts with select customers.
How can innovators learn how to work alongside the technologies that will shape their product/service/experience innovations of the future?
Murane: The most successful innovators embrace new technologies and are always hunting for connections. This requires an ongoing commitment to exploring adjacent categories, to building "farm systems" of technology partnerships rooted in idea sharing and open innovation principles. And it requires getting out of the office to simply explore through methods like BrandJuice Passport Days.
How does leadership, teams, and the environment help empower and accelerate innovation?
Murane: Innovation strategy has to be aligned all the way to the top of the organization and back down so that it can efficient and successful. This means innovators and innovation teams must have executive sign off on an Innovation Charter. This is an agreement that defines fundamentals of innovation success including, size of prize, definitions of risk appetite, capital investment parameters, role of acquisitions, brands of focus, categories of interest and, most importantly, a definition of time frame. Too many innovation teams are whipped around by changing strategy driven by financial success. They may be innovating too close-in or too far out to meet the strategic objectives of the company.
Why is business model innovation a powerful way to breakthrough? How can companies stop conventional business models from impeding innovation?
Murane: Companies cannot stop new business models from entering the market. In fact, of the biggest problems established companies face is being slow to see and then adjust to new models and new forms of competition. Think of Marriott facing Airbnb. Or Dannon and Yoplait taking years to respond to the Greek Yogurt trend led by Chobani.
Software technologies like Brand VO2 can help companies identify shifts in the market. Monitoring word-of-mouth conversations is definitely a starting point. More sophisticated companies invest in innovation structures that allow them to partner their way into new business models or even have adjacent business created with the express purpose of doing business differently than the mothership.
How can open innovation leaders de-risk external collaborations and usher in more efficient pathways into their organization?
Murane: Innovations can be de-risked by investing in transactional learning experiments where key assumptions are validated using early-stage commerce tests. 90% of innovations are flawed in some way -- in that assumptions prove to be incorrect. That doesn't have to mean an innovation is doomed to failure however. In fact, identifying flawed assumptions in a pre-commercialization phase provides a tremendous advantage to a company's innovation portfolio and investment ROI. BrandJuice invented a transactional learning model called Wallet Testing to support this kind of success based on rapid adaptation based on how consumers are voting with their wallets. Who doesn't want less risk and more success.