Inspirational Insights from the Fast Company Innovation Festival—Part 1
By Eric Scheer and Lauren Selman
The Fast Company Innovation Festival wrapped up on Friday, Oct 25—capping off a week full of unparalleled thought leadership, unique experiences and a lot of steps. 34,550 of them to be precise.
If you follow Seed on social media (and you totally should!), you likely saw our many in-the-moment recaps on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This article, on the other hand, is meant to summarize over-arching, foundational insights we noted spanning three key themes from the Festival: Innovation, Internal Team Optimization and Entrepreneurship.
In this installment (Part 1 of 3), we will dive into insights about Innovation. Be sure to check back soon for Parts 2 and 3, where we will cover the remaining themes.
Build a community to facilitate co-creation.
Consumers want to be a part of something bigger. Communities give people that opportunity—letting them connect, share stories and build overall camaraderie.
Communities can come in many different formats––review forums, storytelling opportunities, contests, specific-content blogs, shareable experiences, apps + online gaming, and many more.
Consumer communities provide fertile ground for brand-building co-creation. Just be sure to follow the advice of Jasmine Maietta (Vice President, Brand Marketing at Peloton) and make sure that the community benefits the users. Communities created to serve only the brand are doomed to fail.
Accelerate Your Growth: How can you create stronger community by driving more interactions between your consumers and ultimately your product?
Maximizing value for customers maximizes market potential for brands.
Finding innovative ways to increase value can lead to fresh ideas that benefit consumers and boost your business.
For example, Food52 has built a loyal following with products like a cutting board that’s loaded with smartly designed features, but is made from maple instead of more expensive walnut (which arguably offers negligible added value beyond prestige). Or, take a closer look at how Lemonade has flipped the insurance industry on its head—driving increased value for its customers with simple, tech-driven convenience and a whole new business model.
Accelerate Your Growth: What are innovative ways you can create a value halo? How can you break the conventions associated with your industry’s business model to create meaningful change in the value equation?
Don’t fall into the trap of waiting for perfection—learn and tweak as you go.
We’re big fans of transactional learning—we partner with our clients on this kind of innovation model quite often.
Transactional learning provides large companies a faster, more nimble way to innovate. And the process is simple: ideate, create, test, soft launch, tweak, test again, full launch. The more you focus on getting MVPs (minimally viable products) into a real-world situation, the more you’ll learn. You’ll do it faster––and guess what––you’ll greatly reduce the risk of failure because you’re building and listening to consumers as you go.
Accelerate Your Growth: What do you need to launch an MVP? How can you launch the essential components of your idea without getting bogged down by complicated details?
Functionality is great, but emotion can open a whole new world of opportunity.
Ask yourself how your product makes consumers feel and reframe your business to innovate against whatever human need it meets. At Seed, we often take our clients through a benefit ladder exercise to identify the core need that their product delivers—and look for opportunities to push to a more elevated emotional benefit. Tapping into a more emotional space helps drive differentiation and consumer preference.
For example, Vice Media explains that its brand gives young people a feeling of empowerment, not just a source for news. Similarly, American Eagle notes that its brand provides a medium for self-expression, not just functional t-shirts and jeans.
Accelerate Your Growth: What functional benefit is your product or service delivering and how can you elevate it to be more emotional?
Successful innovation is more than a room full of post-its and markers; it’s the strategy and approach that makes the process really work.
Whatever method you choose (cue the buzzwords: jobs-to-be-done, design thinking, human-centered innovation), make sure the approach is designed to get solutions that will actually work for your company. That’s why we’re such big believers of bringing the cross-functional team together from the beginning of the project. It’s vital to think about all aspects of the business when choosing an innovation method and creating new offerings. You want to make sure that whatever comes out of the process can be executed upon and fits the overall brand vision.
Accelerate Your Growth: What are some ways you can better integrate marketing, research, product development, sales and other parties into the innovation process? How can you leverage their knowledge and expertise to strengthen the likelihood of success?
That’s it for Part 1 of the article! Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll dive into Team Optimization & Mentorship.
Eric Scheer is SVP, Director of Innovation at Seed Strategy where he leads the Innovation Center of Excellence and focuses on the implementation and advancement of innovation and creative process.
Lauren Selman is VP, Strategy at Seed Strategy where she blends business-minded thinking and detail-oriented management to lead valiant strategic initiatives.
Edited by Adam Siegel. In addition to being the Editor of The Accelerator, Adam is a Creative Director at Seed Strategy where he draws upon his diverse experience in advertising, research and innovation to craft breakthrough creative and winning concept copy.
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