Key takeaways:

  • innovation is a mindset that accepts that there might be new ways of providing solutions to customer problems and constantly experiments​

  • it seeks to reduce the risk of exposure by diversifying revenue streams​

  • it constantly challenges dominant logic through ‘unlearning’.​

Innovation happens in T-shaped moments.”

Michael Maness, Co-Founder, Subculture


Adaptive businesses recognise innovation isn’t a process: it’s a mindset of relentless pursuit towards better ways of doing things. Owners know that while innovation involves risks – as not all ideas will prove successful – the greater risk is not acting at all.

New ideas are more likely to be successful when they solve problems. This is why a deeper understanding of client challenges and ‘jobs to be done’ can catalyse innovation – beyond the current products or services provided. Michael Maness suggests innovation is “about generating delight or utility – and even better if you can accomplish both at the same time1.”

Research indicates innovation today could be the key to post-pandemic growth. In the US, organisations that maintained innovation through the 2009 financial crisis outperformed the market average by more than 30% and continued to grow at a faster rate over the following three to five years2.

Maness says it’s important to have a ‘portfolio’ of innovation – revenue streams at different stages of the Universal Arc to avoid the risks of complacency with your core service. “If you only do one thing and that gets taken out, you’re really exposed. This is a really important opportunity to experiment and take more risks, because we don’t know what the answer will be.”

Eventually, you’ll have a conversation that opens up a potential new line of business”

Michael Maness, Co-Founder, Subculture

According to Maness, innovation happens in ‘T-shaped moments’ – engineering collisions where you can bump into someone with an idea that builds on your own.

This can be challenging, so he suggests a strategy he calls ‘discover the other3’. The process involves asking someone you barely know – a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, or someone you met at a conference – for a 30-minute call, and using that time to share ideas, challenges, and experiences.

“Eventually, you’ll have a conversation that opens up a potential new line of business,” he says.

 

How do we foster an environment where ideas get to rise? Ideas are the new currency and can come from anywhere: it’s not about where you sit on the organisation chart.”

Dominic Price, Work Futurist, Atlassian

Innovation can also require stopping old behaviours and ‘unlearning’ traditional solutions, to see problems from new perspectives. Atlassian’s Dominic Price is a firm believer that it’s dangerous to assume that the things that got us where we are today will make us successful in the future.

More in the series:

Additional information

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1

Michael Maness, Fighting against Dominant Logic, Macquarie Perspective event 2020

2

Innovation in a crisis: Why it is more critical than ever, June 17 2020 McKinsey. Data source: McKinsey Innovation through Crisis Survey, April 2020 n=200+

3

COVID-19: surfing the wave of disruption, video transcript with Michael Maness, July 2020