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Home > Innovation, and the big "what-if's?"

Innovation, and the big "what-if's?"

dm.gifI’ve long posted this challenge to my clients: can your organization deal with the rapidity of change? Brands, product, marketing campaigns, skills capabilities, the depth of your bench: it can all go out of date, really, really fast. The art of innovation includes asking yourself: “what-if?” And you can’t limit your thinking, in terms of the potential of the “what-ifs?”

In the context of this and today’s announcement of the DaimlerChrysler de-merger (for want of a better phrase): Wow! Things happen quickly. Two years ago, I spent time with some folks at this iconic global brand. There was a lot of discussion about the “what-if’s.” But maybe the probing within the organization wasn’t deep enough, as to where the “what-if’s” could go.

Now the brand has become undone — and it’s a brand that is set to be something from the “olden days.” It happened to Sony too.

And consider The Google Car and Massive Market Disruption. I started it as a joke on stage. It’s perhaps more real by the moment.

The question of whether your brand is from the olden days is an essential one, because the answer to the question shows how far you are willing to go in assessing the “what-if’s”. Obviouly, the DaimlerChrysler situation is far more complex: legacy costs, an innovative but ultimately doomed workforce, a failure with the massive cultural issues in making a global merger work. But is it that much different that the rapidity of change being faced by any organization today?

Consider this: two years ago, it was pre-Katrina. Oil was cheap, gas was plentiful, and everyone was always going to drive a big SUV.

Today, green is in, volatility rules, and — well, lots of people still drives big SUV’s. Except more and more of them aren’t made by American icons. Brands get tired, not for lack of trying, but for lack of challenge as to the severity of the rate of change.

In the high-velocity economy, there’s no room for complacency. That’s why constant, relentless innovation is critical. At least, it gets people thinking as to the “what-if’s.” Because today, the big “what-if’s” can quickly become the “as has now happened….”

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