Been there. Seen it. Now we’ve done it.
Towards the end of 2015 it was clear that the innovation consulting space had become more crowded and competitive than ever. Let’s set the scene. There were more consultants (large and small), more creative (and cheaper) workspaces to set up shop and increasingly more scalable and technology based tools and services available to the many, not just the few. Our pioneering boutique approach to innovation was under threat. Continue reading “Transformation: Easy to say. Difficult to do.”
The concept of transparency has grown into a mainstream instrument of business to create a more authentic connection with consumers. By now, people are accustomed to voting with their wallets and demanding more from brands, asking to look under the hood – can you be trusted, are you walking your talk? What makes your company, products and culture run? Increasingly though, this idea of transparency (letting people observe) is no longer enough. On the defensive, you share your culture and values outwardly. However this one-sided communication does not guarantee relevance. The most resilient brands have learned to play the offense by becoming ‘permeable’ (letting people participate). After all, if you’re not innovating with your future consumers, you’re not innovating for them.
Permeability creates opportunities for real world culture to inform company culture and output in real time. By actively engaging with relevant communities, you become complicit in creating culture. As part of the dialogue, you’re less reactive and more proactive. Brands and consumers engage in a shared journey, co-creating each others’ experiences. Why is this so important for the resiliency and success of your business?
Your brand becomes more in tune with shifts in culture as they occur, guaranteeing relevance.
Consumers have a more personal and customised experience, strengthening their bond with you.
Mitigate the risk of creating brand products or experiences that fall flat.
An extreme example of strong brand/culture permeability is Airbnb. Aside from the actual product being embedded in culture (staying in locals homes), Airbnb takes it further, by actively cultivating and inviting in local knowledge from hosts. Authentic culture automatically washes through a guest’s stay, seamlessly creating a meaningful travel experience unrivalled by any hotel chain. No insights need to be groomed, nothing artificial needs to be invented or created.
The early majority of legacy companies are now realising they too need to open up to the outside world to avoid being disrupted by utilising their own present and future consumer communities in co-creation. But they’re unsure how to access and harness the right external resources. Abundance can create inertia around options and choice of methodologies.
Beyond social media engagement, what is your company doing to open up and mobilise the creativity of the communities that surround your brand?
3-D Diversity: Why progressive brands see workforce diversity as a competitive advantage not a compliance issue.
Workforce diversity has become a hot topic over the last few years. Minority groups are still shockingly underrepresented, and companies’ HR departments are under increasing pressure to comply with equal employment opportunity regulations. Unfortunately, this focus on checking the compliance box can never unlock the full potential of true diversity.
In a seminal Harvard Business Review article on 2-D diversity, there’s compelling evidence that companies who embrace both inherent diversity (traits such as gender, sexual orientation, nationality and ethnicity) with additional acquired diversity (traits gained from experience – skills, education, cultural exposure), are more innovative and grow faster.
Acquired diversity is the result of life experiences. The more diverse inputs you experience, the richer your creative journey, and the more ‘compound interest’ you accumulate in your creativity-bank. However, many companies still hire people who think similarly, come from similar backgrounds with similar life experiences.
The debate around diversity so far has focused on the workforce within organisational boundaries and overlooks the most important stakeholder group: external audience. If you want to be a creative brand you need to embrace acquired diversity as much as possible.
Opening open up to communities around the brand would unlock what we’d call 3-D diversity. Embedding the raw creativity and visceral experiences of people who live at the edges of culture, into the innovation process itself, will drastically improve the creative journey of your brand and ultimately, as proven, supercharge your innovation and growth.
A decade ago, when sustainability became a hot topic, Nike was one of the first companies to turn sustainability from a problem into an opportunity – to great success. We believe the same shift will happen with diversity.
What’s your opinion? Are you an innovation leader that has a story to tell about the benefits of diversity, we would love to hear from you!