Catching the waves of growth through innovation

Innovation is no longer delivering the goods

There is a broad consensus that something needs to change in how organisations manage innovation. Consumers are changing faster than ever before. Only the most agile and customer-centric companies can spot trends early enough to get the right product to market at the right time. In fact, in the US food and beverage industry in 2016, only 2% of growth was driven by the established big players, with 53% of growth captured by small businesses.[1]

The tables have turned on big organisations, tied down by short-term thinking and a long-winded, risk averse and inflexible stage gate processes. These processes are geared to only approve only the safest ideas, often delivered diluted and too late to fully meet customer needs and deliver growth.

The waves of growth


A great surfer can only surf great waves if they are in the right part of the ocean at the right time. They get this right by looking out to sea, identifying where a wave is building, and then positioning themselves in the right place to catch that wave, ride it to its peak, and get out before it crashes. Growth through innovation works the same way – the trends can be seen in advance by those that know what to look for, and the very best companies position themselves to invest in the trend, capitalise on it to its peak, and divest before the trend collapses, investing again in the next opportunity. This requires the right skills, attitudes, and real agility to react to ever-changing trends.

Spotting the waves of growth

Fast-changing consumer trends mean organisations need to be vigilant to identify trends ahead of their competitors. Looking through new lenses to identify trends can create advantage; the worlds of fashion, music and the perspective of digital nomads are some of the lenses to do this differently. You may even go further – fashion designer Jason Grech used a new approach with IBM Watson to analyse 10 years of fashion data to predict the next wave of colour palettes, fabrics and designs to create his best ever collection.

Choosing which waves to ride

To survive long-term in a changing world, companies need to think outside their normal strategy and planning process to pivot to the new – enabling them to be ready to ride the new waves of growth of the future while transforming their existing business. FujiFilm exemplifies this approach through its pivot from photography film to cosmetics, creating the new cosmetics brand AstaliftFujiFilm looked afresh at its technology and realised that the very same chemicals and processes that help prevent fading of colours in photography also help prevent skin from sagging and fading. They made a strategic Wise Pivot to address this new business opportunity and delivered revenues from these diversified businesses of over $20 billion in the same year that arch-rival Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

Ride the wave through constant adaptation

Just as a surfer must constantly adjust balance and adapt to the constantly changing characteristics of the wave, so organisations must use dynamic learning to develop new solutions quickly, with the consumer at the core of everything they do. Allbirds have re-invented the shoe: made from natural, sustainable materials and reputed to be the most comfortable shoes on the planet. These low-carbon footprint shoes are so comfortable they can be worn sockless, they wick moisture, use the natural properties of wool to keep your feet comfortable across a wide range of temperatures and are even machine washable. In fact their distinctive, simple look has led them to becoming highly fashionable and sought-after, and the shoe of choice in Silicon Valley crowd. Allbirds demonstrate dynamic learning through their mantra of “get the product out of the lab and into the hands of customers”. An in-house customer services operation and a retail store in the HQ allow for ‘an instant feedback loop’ and continuous improvement, so the design and manufacturing could be iterated and adjusted based on live customer feedback. 


These approaches are core to Brand Learning’s new approach to Innovation – Catching the waves of growth. Read more in our short infographic.

Our work with leading companies in consumer goods, life sciences and beyond, has helped us shape critical capabilities to make a step-change in innovation. To find out how we can help you, get in touch.

Read our next blog to find out more on how organisations can implement innovation capabilities.

BRAND LEARNING: Creating Growth Capabilities