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Pivoting is the new business innovation agility

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By: Christina
The possibilities opening up to
businesses at this time of incredible change are exciting, though it will be
challenging for some to release old beliefs. In order to see the possibilities
and seize the opportunities, our eyes must be wide open.
A variety of terms have been used
to describe innovation over the last few years. We have sustainable,
incremental, disruptive and destructive innovation. One that was repeatedly used
at last week's Front End of Innovation Conference that resonates well was transformational. After all,
isn't that what innovation truly does? It transforms? 
We have entered a time period where
the consumer is the boss. With a plethora of choices, why wouldn't they
be? And we know the importance of the Tribe
(and our reliance on those who share similar thoughts and interests) is
growing as is Conscience Purchasing (with
more consumers considering the social and environmental implications) and Connectivity (and the growing importance
and influence of our networks). So how do we take all of these elements and write them into a business plan? Well
actually, we don't.
There is a distinct movement away
from writing the traditional sixty-page plan - the
one you spend hours putting together with five and ten year projections, then slip into
the bottom drawer until someone reminds you it's time to look at it again.
 What is preferred is a Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a visual,
agile and simple template that allows you to strategically develop your
ideas/products/business.  And whether you're planning incremental or
transformational innovation will determine which Model Canvas you go
with. In either case, it's important that you're prepared to pivot.
Strategy is definitely valuable
but prototyping and testing your product, idea or service are worth more, and
this is where pivoting comes in. Pivoting is the new business agility ' when
you need to, turn a little! Tried it and the
client isn't reacting? Pivot. Trialed it and the client has a problem with it?
Pivot. Traditionally we measured our progress against our (dusty) business plan
and if there was a misalignment, we felt the fault was ours. How could the plan,
which was constructed on a number of sound assumptions,
not be accurate? Change the plan. Pivot. Until you find the right match. Pivot.
We talk about flexibility but we're not really walking the talk.  And if you pivot to the point where you're
dizzy, go back to square one.
It's tough to be in business.
More than one business guru has told us that a business designed for success in
the 20th Century is inevitably also designed
for failure in the 21st Century. The Industrial Economy is over and we are heading into a Service Economy for
a Connected Community, so much so that we are being offered a multitude of
services for free. Google are currently trialing air balloons that allow free Internet
access via satellite transmission. They are managing to keep them in the air
for 200 days in spite of the nay sayers. The plan is to have enough of these in
the air to provide worldwide, free Internet access. Imagine what that would
mean for isolated communities, for medical practices, for education, for your Internet
Networking is integral to the
Connective Age. HR positions are set to be filled not by those with impressive
University qualifications, but by those with impressive networks. Seth Godin is
an advocate of 'date your client'. As the lines between work life and social
life continue to blur, we want to know
whom we are doing business with. We want to connect.
Significant transformational
innovations have a slow diffusion rate. In other words, it will be a while
before you reap the benefits.  But if you
go back and plot the growth of the last product or service you offered, you would
find that from ideation to execution, it took a while to reap the benefits from
that as well.  
Students at the Singularity
University in California invest 80% of their time in looking towards the future,
yet how many businesses spend even 20% of their time or resources doing this?
Here are some questions you can
ask at your next board or team meeting or ask yourself, if you are a one-person
operation, to test where you're at:
How much
time do you spend looking forward?
When was the
last time you talked to and observed your clients? Out of the office? Really
How do you
improve your client's experience of life? What value do you add?
Can you
move/react quickly and effectively?
Does your 'culture
eat strategy for breakfast'? Do you have the kind of workplace people want to
spend time at?
Are your
meetings productive? Do people contribute or roll their eyes and watch the
Have you got
the right people on your team?
What is your
core competency ability? What is your strength?
Are you
authentic? Do you do what you say you will?
Are you
giving it 100% or holding back? Why are you holding back?

The good news is you don't have
to make radical changes to your entire business. What you do need to do is give
permission to take even a little of it to the edge.

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