The first journey of the Barnacle gosling out of its nest, as told by BBC Life Story, triggered me to make an unexpected connection with Innovation Accelerators. Could business innovation executives like me learn from a just hatched gosling? Grab a coffee and read on to find out…
First, this is what you need to know about the Barnacle Goose:
- Goose parents build their nest on top of 120m-high cliffs for safety
- Goslings need to feed by themselves and need to get down, where grass grows, before they can fly
- Parents fly down and encourage them to jump off the cliff….
Now, watch this 2min video as posted by the BBC:
5 insights for innovators and business leaders from a Barnacle gosling
INSIGHT 1: jump!
Business and innovation executives know they need to take that first scary step and do things differently so their companies stay competitive. They need to encourage their teams to accelerate and try new ways to innovate, just like the Goose parents do. If the goslings stayed in the perceived safety of the nest they would starve to death. Companies which stay in their comfort zone and don’t to improve and accelerate innovation take the risk of slow starvation. Don’t be scared, jump!
INSIGHT 2: initial “controlled” flight…
This is the concept development and design phase. On paper, it all looks fine. You have funds, executives are excited about the idea, they see the opportunity, everyone seems happy. The sense of speed is exhilarating. Many services focus on this first happy moment.
INSIGHT 3: sudden impact against the face of the cliff….
And then, the crude reality hits you… The prototype doesn’t work, or it is too expensive, or you realise you don’t have the competencies to deliver it, or the draft business case doesn’t add up… How can that be? In some cases, panic can set in. It’s the moment to stay focused and calm, no matter how hard it may seem.
INSIGHT 4: coming tumbling down…
The list gets growing… The feasibility study says you still can’t do this, the risk assessment says you shouldn’t do it, the objectives change, the strategy changes, executives get cold feet and want to cut their losses, concept tests fail, the launch timeline gets shortened, the budget gets cut because short term pressures although you had been reassured it would be ring-fenced, you lose sponsor support, markets pull investment commitment, delay launch date or simply pull out, the pricing doesn’t seem achievable, the cost goes up, the margin comes at risk…. You must keep going… You may feel you are going slowly but actually, you are tumbling down that rock at high speed. At this stage you are just not sure whether or not you will make it in one piece to the end.
INSIGHT 5: happy ending (for some)…
You made it! The project launches with success! The executives and market team had been encouraging the development of this project all along and were eagerly waiting to launch. At this time, the failure of the other projects — the goslings that never made it alive to the bottom — seems worthwhile. If those failures don’t stop the Barnacle Geese from nesting again on the top of the cliff the next year, they shouldn’t stop the winning innovators from launching the next Accelerator.
So, next time you talk about innovation and growth acceleration, remember the Barnacle gosling…
- You’ll be scared and excited at the start. Create a connected business growth strategy so you feel ready to jump
- The beginning will feel great. Build an integrated value proposition and business model and identify the key competencies and ecosystem to leverage so you fly with confidence. Enjoy the moment!
- You will have an inevitable first crush. Bring the reality forward as much as you can to minimise the impact. Front-load implementation and scaling issues and make blind-spot identification an integral part of your design phase
- You will continue to be hit with implementation issues. Keep focused on your goal and your belief. Become agile by concentrating on interactions, competencies, milestones and outputs to be delivered. Don’t get trapped in the technicalities of processes and methods, they can become a smoke screen obscuring your view of the actual work. Step by step, the project will come together. Never forget why you are doing this.
- A success in the market will make it all worth it. Build a portfolio of projects in the Accelerator so you can manage the risk and maximise business and customer impact, including accounting for those projects in the Accelerator that never made it. Team up with your CFO here.
I hope you enjoyed this little story and that it will help you succeed with innovation and business growth. I have tumbled down that cliff more than once, and I just can’t wait to jump off it again! Please share with us what you thought about it and how it may have helped you!