Dr.-Ing. Norbert Reithofer, CEO of BMW AG:
Why BMW started the risky BMW-i3 project?
Because doing nothing was even a bigger risk”.
- visited start-ups challenging your position.
- invited a trend watcher to confront you with how quick the world is changing.
- visited customers who just changed provider to an innovative substitute.
- went to Tech Universities to see experiments with new technologies.
- read articles on new successful business models.
- visit young customers and asked what they think of your brand — and products.
- visited customers … and simply talked to them while they are at it
If you are reading this, your organization is probably less innovative than you are. You have a game-changing role. Build awareness that your company needs to innovate. Top Management will only change their conservative views if they get fresh new insights.
Keep confronting them with signals that your market is changing rapidly: changing customer preferences, new substitutes, a small new Danish start-up, et cetera… until the urgency to innovate will be understood and is top-of-mind.
Present your innovative breakthroughs propositions (bring new business, not new ideas) not as something really extraordinary (and risky) but as the normal next thing to do for the company. Your chances to convince will increase dramatically.
The voice of the Customer (VoC) is your best friend, ever. Use Customer Insights results and enthusiast testimonials to get internal support.
And Oh, one last thing, of course they’ll say no to your innovation. What would you do if someone came up to you out of the blue, saying you have to do the things you do totally differently? Or do totally different things. Innovation is always provocative by definition. So when they say “no” to innovation, don’t take it personally. It is not the end of the battle. It’s only the beginning!