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Overcoming Innovation’s Roadblocks: Overlooked Assets

Despite well-laid plans and big investment, most innovation is slow and unpredictable. How to make it faster and more efficient? Supercharge your ideas with the assets and capabilities you already have.

This is the second piece in a multipart series on the Roadblocks to Innovation—where we’ll be providing real-world examples, actionable insights and practical tools that can help you innovate to win. Read part one here.

While catching up over coffee last week, my long-time friend at a “big co.” company was dreaming of greener grass. Venting, he described a mythical startup, free of legacy systems, outdated capabilities or calcified culture. The dream: a blank sheet on which to create consumer solutions without the burden of assets or constraints.

Sure, it may be tempting to join him in the dream and blame existing assets as the barriers preventing an idea from hitting the market—but in reality, that would be a huge mistake. The most successful brand innovators have shown that existing assets aren’t burdens at all—they’re blessings that enable faster, less-expensive innovation.

Here at LPK, our leading clients don’t have the luxury of a blank sheet on which to dream, nor do they wish for one. From decades of experience, we know clean slates can lead to innovation dead-ends: scenarios where winning ideas are deemed “undoable” or too capital intensive (and thus risky) to green-light. Instead, we take a collaborative approach with our clients. Together, we discover and leverage their company’s overlooked assets to push innovations to market faster—with less investment and higher success rates.

6 Ways to Unleash Your Assets

Discovering the unrecognized, underleveraged or undervalued assets in your toolbox doesn’t have to be a chore. By starting your hunt in these six proven spaces, you’re guaranteed to uncover valuable assets that will supercharge your next big idea.

1. Technologies & IP
What underleveraged technologies, manufacturing capabilities or IP could serve as key innovation enablers?

2. Customer Relationships
How might you further leverage your customer relationships or data to create new value?

3. Distribution Networks
What opportunities might your distribution networks unlock?

4. Forgotten R&D
What valuable research could be leveraged to validate new products or services?

5. Partnerships
What valuable partnerships could offer a new benefit to adjacent categories or customers?

6. Employees
How might employees serve to power up new products or services?

Brand Reinvention: Existing Assets at Work

Hungry for some tangible examples of asset-inspired innovation? In just the last month both Walmart and Icelandair have brought to market provocative innovations made possible by existing employees.

Home delivery certainly isn’t a new idea, but Walmart’s newest pilot program fights online giant Amazon by cleverly enlisting its 2.2 million employees to deliver online orders on their way home from work. Associates get an opportunity to monetize a commute they were already making, while Walmart keenly cuts costs on the final mile of deliveries—often the most expensive part of the fulfillment process.

Icelandair is having a similar aha moment with its employee base. For years, airlines worldwide have recruited from the performing arts for flight attendants. Now, Icelandair is activating their attendants’ dormant talents with the world’s first in-flight immersive theater experience on their flights from London to New York. And with a recent survey revealing that more than half of passengers get bored during their flights, this show won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.

With a fresh cache of assets, look back and review your old concepts to see if once-infeasible or risky ideas become doable. Or, look forward and pair your assets with new consumer insights to lead a fresh round of ideation. Either way, you’re on the path to fast, low-capex, low-risk innovation.

Interested in learning more about how LPK helps clients transform existing assets into innovation advantage? Drop Nick a line at nick.partridge@lpk.com, and stay tuned as we unpack more innovation roadblocks in the weeks ahead.

Nicholas Partridge is senior innovation director at LPK—and he’s obsessed with creating “the new”: be it product, service, brand or experience. Nick is a veteran innovator, having partnered with the world’s most powerful brands and scrappy upstarts on their hairiest innovation challenges. Prior to joining LPK, he served as co-head of Idea Couture (NYC), as innovation director at Fahrenheit 212 (NYC) and as industrial designer at Essential (Boston). He enjoys a good game of soccer and never met a lobster roll he didn’t like. Find him on Twitter at @KnewNewNeu.

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