We did a survey on digital innovations in January-March 2018. One of the findings was that most of the innovations were more or fewer results of an operational Agility. Operational Agility means making the existing products better, faster, cheaper for existing customers. For instance, you focus on developing cables and new features for them, but still, it is a cable. There’s nothing wrong with Operational Agility, but it usually doesn’t offer new markets for your products or services.
Quite seldom companies use strategic Agility which means creating new markets with new products or services that reach new customers or even market-creating innovation. To give you a concrete example, instead of making better DVD’s, we deliver web-based streaming such as Yle Areena or Netflix. Hence the whole ecosystem changes and there is an option to find new customers and markets.
Market-creating innovation deserves special attention because it is a result of cultural transformation on all levels. If a company is limiting its strategic thinking to what is happening only by top management it is unlikely to succeed. To be successful, it will need all capabilities and skills it can find—both inside and outside the organization. McKinsey (2018) reported that only 8 percent of companies they surveyed recently said their current business model would remain economically viable if their industry keeps digitising at its current speed and course.
How to win this battle? The winners test and learn, launch early prototypes, and refine results in real time—cutting down the development time. The organization needs to be ready to explore, discover, confirm and build them on all levels by teams, by business units, and by the management. We believe that minimum viable products trump theoretical business cases.