“An intellectual can of Red Bull!” –Page Thompson, CEO North America of Omnicom Media Group¹
Jeremy Gutsche fills the room with energy when he speaks. His powerful presence commands your attention and his fast-paced delivery keeps you alert, not wanting to miss one brilliant word. His research and proven expertise inspire you to want to be better, move faster and learn how to find the path to innovation.
That was my experience listening to him while sitting in a packed audience of 2,500 attendees at the recent Help Desk Institute (HDI) 2015 conference in Las Vegas. In his speech, Jeremy outlined his “proven path to unstoppable ideas” and summarized key points from his recent book, Better and Faster.
According to Jeremy, companies today are not structured to adapt. The average life span of a Fortune 500 company used to be 75 years. That has dropped to 15 and is predicted to decrease. Successful companies and teams miss opportunities just out of their grasp. Success fuels complacency.
Companies often stick with the actions or behaviors that made them successful and avoid new or different approaches out of fear. We are inherently farmers and can get caught in one of three traps—being complacent, repetitive and protective. We try to optimize what worked in the past and assume status quo will last forever.
But there are consistent patterns and clues in chaos that can lead you to innovation. To identify those patterns and fresh ideas, Jeremy created his “Better and Faster Framework” that consists of three steps to disruption. First, we need to awaken the hunter in each of us and learn to adapt and innovate. Then we need to learn to hunt and search for the six patterns of opportunity. Lastly, we need to capture the ideas. To innovate and find new ideas, you only need to dedicate 10 percent of your focus. You don’t need to redirect the entire company or all of your efforts.
Adapt and innovate like a hunter
Jeremy identifies three key habits of hunters—they are insatiable, curious and destructive. To unleash your hunter instincts, you need to experiment and fail. You need to be inquisitive and look at different industries for inspiration. Be willing to destroy old ways of doing things.
Hunt for ideas and opportunities
Next you need to hunt for ideas. Think of innovation like a splash of water—one idea can start a ripple of innovation. In Jeremy’s framework, there are six patterns of opportunities:
- Convergence: Align multiple forces, converge people, combine brands or find ways to add value.
- Acceleration: Strive for perfection, be aspirational, supercharge efforts and process, create a powerful chain reaction, or reimagine a solution. Find ways to move fast and outpace your competition. Your competitors are lazy.
- Redirection: Rationalize, refocus and reprioritize. Reverse directions or procedures and create a surprise. Try gamifying to appeal to today’s trends of gratification.
- Circularity: Trends are obvious in retrospect. Consider retro, nostalgia, generational, economic or seasonal trends that could be reinvented with a new twist.
- Reduction: Simplify, specialize and be more efficient.
- Divergence: Do the opposite of your competitor. Personalize, customize or create a generational rebellion.
Capture ideas and experiment
After awakening your instincts and hunting for ideas, you need to capture those new concepts and approaches. Search for related ideas and push your boundaries. Collect and cluster what you find, throwing away your first clusters. Look for patterns and re-cluster to fine-tune your concepts. Then start experimenting.
In his speech at HDI, Jeremy provided countless examples of companies who became stuck in their success and failed to innovate, including Smith-Corona and Kodak. Yet, he provided inspiration with case studies of entrepreneurial genius in Zara and Red Bull.
Quoting Peter Drucker, Jeremy reminded us that “It’s not the questions that change, it’s the answers that do.” He reinforced the fact that innovations happen by making connections most people miss. What are you missing?
¹ When Page Thompson, CEO North America of Omnicom Media Group, described Jeremy Gutsche as “an intellectual can of Red Bull,” his estimation was dead-on.
Jeremy Gutsche is a bestselling author, an award-winning innovation expert, sought-after speaker and CEO of TrendHunter.com. This article is based on his presentation at the HDI Conference 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 25, 2015, where he shared highlights from his new book, Better & Faster.