Yesterday, I spent some time at the offices of BCG, getting their validation on the metrics we’re planning to use in 2008 to measure our innovation efforts. In case you don’t know, BCG have a very developed innovation practice, with some leading thinkers in the field. Talking with them is always productive.
Apart from the discussion we had around our measures, the conversation eventually turned to the difference between companies that "get" innovation and those that don’t. In the BCG typology, there is usually an "epiphany moment" that occurs.
The epiphany moment occurs when current strategy, based on fueling the mother ship business, start to fail in the delivery of expected growth. When the people working in the business begin to question whether that traditional strategy is valid any more. And, of course, when leadership beings to get questions about they way forward.
At the Epiphany Moment, leadership suddenly realises that "different" needs to be the new strategy. They commit resources to finding and commercialising the different, and this innovation saves the company. BCG posited many examples. Proctor and Gamble. Apple. Shell. Quite a few others. But they all had one thing in common: in the face of decline of their traditional businesses, they turned around and did something different.
Now that’s interesting in the banking context, given the turbulent conditions that presently prevail. Lots of institutions do, in fact, have their backs against the wall. That’s the time for the epiphany moment. I wonder what amazing things might come from it?
One final piece of advice they gave me stuck with me. You can best help your organisation by making sure that the conditions are right for the epiphany moment to occur. Not by helping in the decline of the current business, but by making sure that when the question is asked, it is obvious that innovation is the answer.