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"Innovation to me is
about progression."
18 September, 2020

Matt Bowen, Digital and Innovation at ING Australia discusses the importance and future of innovation as well as his 3 common mistakes businesses make when attempting to innovate.

Q. What are the common mistakes businesses make when attempting to innovate?

A. There’s 3 things that I think I see almost too often in new product development or designing a new service.

  1. Falling in love with your solution: Driven by excitement and passion to create, quite often founders or product managers will think that the solution they’ve designed is perfect and will be closed to negative feedback or critique.
  2. Assuming the problem you’re solving is bigger than it is: I’m a big believer in finding a way to solve every problem, but don’t assume that the problem you’re solving it important enough for people to pay for that solution, or that the target market is big enough for you to make a profit (if that’s your intent)
  3. Failing to launch: Plan, plan and plan some more. Reality is you’ll learn much more in market than you will in the boardroom. Understand how you can test your product early and launch. At least then you’ll know what’s working and what’s not and can funnel your budgets into fixing the parts of the experience or product that matter most.

Q. What is the first thing a business needs to do if it wants to become innovative?

A. Drop their ego. The biggest barrier to innovation is making the assumption that you’re the only person who knows about and can solve that specific problem. Businesses who recognise the value of talking to potential customers, conducting research and experiments and more importantly have a growth mindset will be the ones who can bring those insights into the development lab and build better products and services off the back of it.

Q. What can small businesses learn from big businesses about innovation?

A. There’s value in process and governance. Many founders run from big corporate structures for the lure of freedom from constraints. And much of that is true – but a good process or blueprint for innovation is an incredibly powerful tool and can help keep you honest to the essence of customer-centric innovation. In terms of governance, no one needs discipline around money like a small business. You may not need the 64 tab business case, but having criteria for ideas to invest in vs stop will be incredibly important for protecting your assets and pouring your money into the right projects.

Q. What should your number one goal be when tackling an innovation project?

A. To learn something. Don’t let past experiences or your high expectations of future success drive you to the wrong destination. Be open, be humble be vulnerable. Let your customers be the expert, talk to them often, understand them and build solutions that they want (not what you think they need).

Q. What does the term innovation mean to you?

A. An impossible question to answer with brevity. Innovation is the ultimate catch-all; from mindsets, to behaviour, from technology to customers – innovation to me is about progression. Improving on the current state and designing a better future for your customers.