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Hybrid Innovation – and the threat of Zombies

When is innovation not innovation -The Zombies are among us and sometimes it’s difficult to tell them apart!!

Many businesses are in turmoil as the shift from an inside-out mindset of ‘Pipeline’ to the outside-in mindset of Open-Networking wreaks havoc at the ‘C-Level’. Innovation is the new mantra – and top of mind, while ‘sales’ has dropped to near the bottom of business leaders’ focus. This shift of the Innovation flow from internal ‘R&D’ to the disruption of venture building, co-created customer experiences and a decline in the prevalence of ‘value-capture’ strategies v.s the riskier ‘value-creation’ strategies – is one of the paradigm shifts of our times. Kevin Kelly’s Twelve Forces have indeed become ‘Inevitable’, and the 4th industrial revolution is upon us.

Unfortunately, in response, Zombie Innovation abounds – Innovation that is not really innovation, just as the Zombies are not really alive. Tokens, cosmetics and corporate accessories are all too common – as companies attempt to ‘hackathon’ their way to safety, or furiously buy more beer for the fridge next to the x-box…in vain attempts to be more ‘creative’. However, a ‘game-station’ will not future-proof your business!

The challenge faced is that for many organisations – brought up on a diet of ‘pipeline’, the immune system is just too strong to mess around at the ‘core’ ..and ‘edge’ activities are just too superficial to prevent the inevitable ‘Horizontal Dancing’ as business leaders frantically attempt to extract more blood from the same stone. However, pressure is mounting as increasingly we migrate from ‘scarcity’ business models to ‘abundance models’. Photographs are no longer a precious commodity that we wait for eagerly for the two weeks after our holidays…now our challenge is to find the right picture out of 6,000 on our phones. ChatGPT disrupts at scale and makes text available to all, threatening the role of copywriters and even school examiners. The paradigm shifts are gaining pace, and unfortunately, they typically de-monetize the industry space they impact.

Businesses need speed to survive, no more 5-year plans – who knows what the World will hold for us in two years time. They know they have to move fast at the ‘edge’ with conviction, and yet minimize risk to an already threatened business model. For this reason, many businesses are turning to execution specialists who get stuff done quickly – with precise decision-making validated by data – to create new sources of value, be they business models, ventures, or new products and experiences. Typically these ‘boutique’ services are manned by fast-thinking, entrepreneurial young minds who thrive on the possible, and not the incumbent challenges. With these collaborations, quick wins can be had, and traditionally minded ‘core’ members ‘learn by doing’ in a way that makes sense. Over time, supportive entrepreneurial cultures are liberated and processes are changed – to draw innovation into the core of the business.

A few of these boutiques like New Cannibals…without falling into the trap of becoming consultancies, and taking customers’ watches to tell them the time – are offering a Hybrid approach that combines disruption at the ‘edge’ of the business – with human enablement at the ‘core’. This speeds up the entire process and the ‘human-engineering’ involved acts like an insurance policy. Autonomy, free from expensive external support, can be reached surprisingly quickly and costs are covered by value-creation revenues.

New Cannibals

Stuart Hardy