Powershop and Nike shine on the innovation stage, here's why

Powershop and Nike shine on the innovation stage, here's why
Powershop and Nike are strong examples of company innovation

Innovation, sought after by so many and mastered by an elusive few; the ground is littered with mistakes. While some of this is inevitable as one iterates through ideas, many of the mistakes are simply attempts by those who substitute 'sticky notes' and creative brainstorming for logic and analysis. In a series of articles over the coming months I will provide a pragmatic and logical lens through which companies can measure innovation.

Before I go any further, let me give credit to a firm called Doblin. This firm has been dedicated to decoding innovation for more than three decades and has recently joined Deloitte as part of a global acquisition.

Central to Doblin's work is a rigorously tested framework known as the '10 Types of Innovation'. It is a system that organises analysis and creative thinking. It is intentionally simple while providing structured reference to ensure rigorous, robust and complete thinking.

10 Types of Innovation

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This framework is often described using a theatrical metaphor; the company’s customer-facing action all happens on stage as public performances. Meanwhile, the organisation supporting the show is working tirelessly backstage to ensure a smooth performance. 

This framework can be used in a variety of ways including:

- Mapping innovative activity across entire industries

- Modelling your competitors, including their strengths and weaknesses

- Evaluating your own innovation projects to determine where they are delivering change

Here are two examples from Nike and Powershop that help illustrate how this works:

Nike was recognised this year as the most innovative company by FastCompany. When looking at Nike through the 10 Types of Innovation lens, you can see a business that has gone beyond product performance into product systems. Collaborations with companies such as Apple have allowed Nike to pull its customers together in a social network which has redefined customer engagement in their category. Based on newly acquired capabilities, Nike expanded its product system to include much more wearable technology (e.g. FuelBand) and position itself perfectly for the personal health monitoring trend.

In New Zealand, Powershop has demonstrated how channel, brand and customer experience innovations can shake up the retail electricity market. Most customers pay very little attention to their electricity provider – it’s a utility after all. Through differentiated brand-marketing and the use of different channels to reach customers (including smartphone applications) Powershop was able to engage customers in their retail electricity purchase and in the process take significant market share.

For my remaining articles, I will discuss ‘on-stage’ dimensions and backstage support to explore how this framework can be used to take a more systemic and structured approach to innovation. In the meantime, I encourage you to take a critical look at your own innovation activities through this lens and question whether a structured rethink would generate better results.

Grant Frear is a consulting partner at Deloitte.

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