Innovation at the intersection: How aha moments are born

A few weeks back our colleague Tom Carvell wrote a very entertaining piece around how to get innovation wrong. In this blog, Helen Donald, Partner in the STRAT7 Advisory team, takes a deep dive into how to get it right. 

For us, success in innovation boils down to the inception of the idea – the aha moment – that comes when everything falls into place and the path forward becomes clear.  And for this to happen, you have to have the right conditions in place.

We believe that great innovation is all about recognising opportunities at the intersection of consumer culture, Science and Technology and category context in a way that delivers value to consumer and business by addressing core consumer and business needs.

It’s a lot to consider! And this is why the kind of simple ideas that end up subverting the status quo and stimulating real category disruption can feel so difficult to spot and cultivate. But if you get it right, it can set you up for success across the rest of the innovation value chain. 

So how do you create the right conditions to satisfy all of the above? How can you identify when something has shifted to change the landscape and create new opportunities for value creation? And how do you do it in a way that reflects the agility and pace of change in today’s world? 

Always start with the consumer  

For us, the start point is always the consumer. A new product or service that doesn’t create value for your existing or potential customer is an invention, not true innovation.  

It is critical therefore to be able to identify the deep-set unmet consumer needs that are crying out for resolution. Equally critical is being clear on how resolving them will benefit your business. 

We call the meeting of consumer and business need an unlocking insight – a consumer tension that if met will unlock opportunity for your business. The cornerstone to any strong innovation idea  

Done well, this can be made to look easy but the skill it takes to get there should not be underestimated.  Thankfully this expertise resides in spades across the STRAT7 group.  

Connect the dots to create new value 

The next step is to pinpoint how to solve this consumer tension to create value in new and potentially ground-breaking ways. 

Both technology and science, and category and market dynamics play a critical ‘make or break’ role here. 

  • The right science and technology can act as an amplifier to grow the potential impact of a solution. However, if this doesn’t exist or isn’t accessible enough, it can be a barrier. The tech needs to not only be possible but also established enough to be delivered affordably at scale. 
  • Category and market context can hugely impact the viability of an opportunity. Changing economic conditions, new entrants to the category or new regulations can present both curve balls and opportunities. If the market conditions aren’t favourable or your industry isn’t ready, due to supply chain or regulatory challenges, for example, there may be significant hurdles standing in your way.  

By democratising data and uncovering insights across consumer, technology and category context, you will be in a much stronger position to identify relevant, viable and feasible innovations that lie at the intersection of all three. 

Get the mindset right 

So, you have identified the tension, and a platform to unlock it – it’s all plain sailing from here, right? Sadly not! For a light bulb to work, you need the switch to be turned on. For an idea to be accepted and acted on, the business needs to be open to accepting the possibilities it offers.  My colleague Kate Jones wrote about this in our last Advisory blog, but it is worth re-stating how critical it is for all stakeholders to be open and willing to see the potential that a great innovation can have. 

Keeping pace with change 

That then is our recipe for success in generating the aha moments that can set the course of successful innovations. The real challenge is being able to spot and anticipate ways to better solve consumer tensions before anyone else.  

To hear more about our approach to innovation please register for our webinar or reach out to our team