We’re in the midst of a digital transformation that is changing the way our businesses, economy, and even society works.

Social media platforms have fundamentally changed the way we interact with each other, as well as with brands and companies; cloud computing has changed the scale of our capacities when it comes to accessing all sorts of IT tools; and new technologies such as 3D printing and Internet of Things applications will transform previously ‘dumb’ products into ‘smart’ ones that act and react to what we do and say.

Transformation, disruption, and innovation have become the buzzwords of our time and companies like Netflix, Uber, and Amazon are examples held up to demonstrate what these buzzwords look like in the real economy, in real time.

A recent McKinsey article*, looking at how big companies become successful innovators, reveals that “innovation is a complex, company-wide endeavor, it requires a set of cross-cutting practices and processes to structure, organise, and encourage it.”

The article also emphasises that while the world of business has very rarely ever been a place for tardy thought or action, the new business world, driven by digital innovation, has increased the pace tenfold:

“In the digital age, the pace of change has gone into hyperspeed, so companies must get these strategic, creative, executional, and organisational factors right to innovate successfully.”

The article outlines eight key things companies must do to stay ahead of the curve on innovation:

  • Aspire
  • Choose
  • Discover
  • Evolve
  • Accelerate
  • Scale
  • Extend
  • Mobilise

A major influence on the methodology outlined in the article is the way lean and agile thinking has infiltrated how big companies are approaching innovation. Of course, there are those who say this is just big companies mindlessly trying to mimic a trendy model—old dogs trying to learn new tricks.

One of the reasons lean methods have become so popular is that they are replicable and repeatable. Big companies can, in fact, act like agile, aggressive, creative start-ups if the right conditions are created. Contrary to the popular mythology, it doesn’t require genius to innovate and disrupt a market. (Genius is a great head start, but it’s a pretty rare commodity).

As the McKinsey article puts it, while genius does its thing, “The rest of us can look for insights by methodically and systematically scrutinising three areas: a valuable problem to solve; a technology that enables a solution; and a business model that generates money from it. You could argue that nearly every successful innovation occurs at the intersection of these three elements.”

You can download the full article below…