How to use brand planning to innovate faster than your competitors

Immelt shares with us the background knowledge to manage change and innovation (Thanks Jeff)

Fast innovation is the term to describe the holy grail of today. Richard Spencer gave us a punchy definition of Fast Innovation in his co authored work: Fast Innovation Achieving Superior Differentiation, Speed to market and Profitability.

Fast Innovation. The process of creating new products, services, business models, processes and markets with sufficient differentiation and speed such that the company sustains above average shareholder return for decades.

In 1989, Alan Key said it took ten years to get to an innovation to market. Twitter went to market in just four, while today, constant reinventors are continually sharpening their competitive advantage. Zara’s ability to get its fashion to market in just 6 weeks, keeps it ahead of the competitors.

In the past acquisitions were the major way to growth, but over the last 10 years acquisitions have not offered the major upside of growth they once did…driving organic growth to the top of CEO agendas in four out of five companies.

Jeff  Immelt, CEO and Chairman of General Electric, the world’s third largest company is considered the master of organic growth. Jeff is on records as saying.

Today, organic growth is absolutely the biggest task. I want imagination breakthroughs…I want game changers….If we don’t hit our revenue targets people are not going to get paid!…We are just a moment away from commodity hell.

Immelt has had organic growth as high as 9% per annum, but has pulled back the reigns for 2013. GE is planning for industrial organic revenue growth—which excludes the impact of acquisitions—at just 2% to 6% in 2013. GE’s explained that the “economic uncertainty” at the close of 2012 had resulted in an investment “pause” which resulted in a slowdown of corporate sales. GE is aiming for about 8% growth in 2013.

Fluctuating currencies, disruptive technologies, uncertain economic times and faster speed to market has made fast innovation a business imperative. With all those variables an organization has never been so challenged to deliver.

As Immelt cautions us: “The world becomes more competitive, every day,”

Fast Innovation is so fast, that Grant McCracken of Convergence Culture Consortium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology says, organisations need one foot in the future to keep up today. Grant talks about organisations, so nimble they can reinvent themselves on the fly.

For fast innovation, you not only need to see what is going on, but to innovate you need to spin scenarios about what the future will be. Business needs to work with trends and premonitions of what will be. First movers are moving on less and less data to sure up their place in the future. It is in this context, brand planning and an entrepreneurial mindset has never been so critical.

HeartMath Institute from the US, in partnership with the Australian Graduate School of Management, are studying the role of intuition in successful repeat entrepreneurs. They are making the case that the intuitive ability of repeat entrepreneurs differs from that of non entrepreneurs, including the use of non local intuitive ability. Non local intuitive ability allows one to tap into the collective consciousness beyond their past experience and knowledge. It is my personal belief it is this very ability, that is the gift that allows people like Steve Jobs to build for “what will be”.

Most importantly we need brand planning, the forward thinking of a business based on customer insight, through qualitative research, trending data and co creation of stakeholders and customers. Brand planning keeps an organization close to the core, by owning a market position and customer need, while constantly reinventing itself. Brand planning is about innovating to keep the same.

Brand planning has moved way beyond its roots in advertising, today brands must embed themselves in every business process. Brands are the guiding principles for growth, defining the “way of doing business” and a business critical driver of fast innovation.

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Founder Thought Leaders Circle


HeartMath: Nonlocal Intuition in Entrepreneurs and Non-entrepreneurs: An Experimental Comparison Using Electrophysiological Measures1

Jeff Immelt

Grant McCracken

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