News is full of cool technologies like drones, blockchains or autonomous cars and their disruptive character. Traditional firms have switched to innovation mode and have now cool digital transformation units to use these new technologies. Everybody is happy. Great, isn’t it? Or wait? Can this really work that easy?
I just had a project with a company that has set up an innovation unit to push innovation. They have great people who are very salient with all the tools we use today in holistic innovation management like Design Thinking, Scrum or Lean Startups.
However, when management wanted to use the 3 horizon framework, originally from McKinsey but later further developed by Paul Hobcraft, to map their innovation projects on the 3 horizon matrix, we had problems to rank the projects to the 3 horizons.
The entrepreneurial side: The missing side of innovation
The reason was simple. The focus of the projects was on technology and not on customer’s side of innovation or on the business model. Somehow, it seems that the project managers were happy to have installed the new fancy technology but have forgotten the entrepreneurial side of innovation.
It is important to remember what Michael Schrage has said to innovation:
Innovation is not what you innovators do… It is what customers and clients adopt.
Not only the customer side was missing but also the side how they wanted to use the technology in their business. The following illustration shows the relationship between technology and value creation.
How could that have happened in a company that has the tools and innovation managers that know how to apply the tools?
Not tools, the right mindset to think in business model is missing
The Swiss private banks are under pressure to change their business model. It is not just pressure from other states that want to fight tax evasion via exchange of information on bank customers but also from employers that try to sell stolen customers’ data to foreign governments.
The big news in Switzerland is that an informant, crook or thief – whatever you like to call him depends from your standpoint – has offered the German authorities data from 1,500 German customers of Swiss Banks that have allegedly dodged taxes. Last year, another informant stole data on 3,000 French bank clients from the HSBC branch in Switzerland and sold it to the French authorities. And in 2008, Germany already purchased data on German customers of the Liechtenstein Bank LGT. The LGT case cost the German government several million Euro but they received a far higher pay-back on its investment form all the taxes and fines that the busted tax evaders had to pay.
“We have to pay so high salaries otherwise we don’t get the right people” is often heard from firms even in the crisis. Particularly the failed banking industry was very good in this salary death spiral. Salary was seen in this market as the only differentiators with great results.
I always wondered why the so highly paid managers could not find other reasons than money. Are they so uncreative that they had only the pricing mechanism as the only marketing tool in their recruiting process? Did they ever think about who they hired when money is the only reason why one should work for a particular bank? Can you develop a long-term oriented, customer centric bank when you have soldiers of fortune as employees? Have they every thought about what kind of culture they have created in this process? Have they ever thought about the customer experience they have created with a recruiting policy like that?
Well, the bankers will tell you they were driven by the short term orientation of the investors and the financial market in general. They will tell you that everybody was doing it so they had to do it as well. Continue reading Money as the only differentiator