Exploring Adjacent Sector Innovation Requires External Provocateurs

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by: Idris Mootee

I finally got some time today to visit our new office. I really like
this space as it has three sides of window in a very hip area. We were
trying to visualize how all our innovation space should come together
and what to do with each “innovation playroom”. Here are some photos. I
guess it will take another 3-4 weeks before it is fully functional when
other Herman Miller (They did a partial delivery today of 30 Mirra
chairs) furniture arrives. It is a 6 week order cycle. My batch of new
MacBook Air will probably come before the desks.

I’ve also met with a couple of very talented people today who were
exploring opportunities with us and they were all excited about how we
bring customer-focused innovation to organizations. Today
customer-focused innovation is definitely on many corporate agendas,
but what exactly are they doing and who’s in charge of it? These
questions often remain unanswered.

When people talk about exploring white space, they are mostly
referring to adjacent sector innovation; they like this because it is
next to the core. So what is needed is to extend outside the core? The
easiest way is to explore adjacent sector innovation to correspondingly
bring in new ideas from outside and into their core markets or product
sectors. Organic growth is seen to be more successful and generally
more manageable than acquisiiton- driven growth. Questions are asked
about the ability of organizations to achieve higher levels of growth
from existing operations only by continuing to deliver new products or
extending them into new experiences. Due to converging technologies and
blurring channels and markets, new approaches to enable better
identification and transfer of ideas and technologies across sectors
are desperately needed. Help is also welcomed. Companies are searchng
for best approaches to do this, adjacent sector innovation is the most
convenient white space. To explore this space need external
provocateurs acting as “thought leaders”. We can’t expect teams to be
imaginative and visionary if they have an inwardly-focused world view.
Without fresh stimulus it’s hard to think differently. External thought
leaders that include inspirational provocateurs and visionaries – are
the essential catalyst for organizations that seek breakthrough

The open innovation movement is more about licensing concepts in and
out of the organization from and to wherever new revenue can be
generated, adjacent sector innovation is more focused on proactively
spotting trends in parallel spaces and identifying ways to adopt and
exploit them within your sector. In this case, comparative analysis
rather than competitor analysis is needed. The more sophisticated
companies have chosen to use new tools (design thinking) to uncover
wider opportunities that may lie over the home sector horizon. Adjacent
category innovation is growing in response to the need for greater,
faster and higher impact innovation across sectors; both in
‘customer-visible’ products/services as well as in ‘customer-invisible’
processes. It is simply being driven by a change in strategic
perspectives of where new innovations can come from and go to. In order
to deliver the promise, there is also a demand for a change in internal
capability to identify, enable and manage associated innovation
opportunities. Organizations that are successful in this area are
building efficient innovation networks to highlight opportunities.
That’s what we are doing with our clients (and sometimes their ad
agencies), we work with them to create future growth aspirations with a
range of opportunities by bringing in fresh, future-oriented
perspectives from outside the organizations. The interim deliverable of
the process a set of “industry foresight” and with that we create
“tangible futures” that organization can touch and feel. In fact, we
are prototyping business opportunities across the adjacent sector
innovation spectrum.

Original post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2008/01/exploring-adjac.html