Want innovation…? Don’t get comfortable is part of the Free eBook: How to beat the digital disrupters at their own game

“… But, we’ve always done it this way…”

Most large organizations have pockets of motivated, intrapreneurial, can-do people, who have a clear vision of how things could be done better, and the drive and will to make it happen. The problem is that most large organizations also have a much bigger population of people – usually managers who have worked their way up – who are comfortable doing things in a certain way. These people are often far happier to keep doing those same things until they retire, rather than embrace new and radically different ways of working – especially if there’s a risk that those new ways may put them out of a job.

If the organization has no strategy for innovation, and no senior executive commitment to it, the enthusiasm of the motivated group will almost certainly be crushed by the inertia of the “we’ve always done it this way” contingent. If someone proposes an idea for a new customer-facing application, for example, and the response is to propose a 12-month feasibility study followed by a 12-month IT procurement process, the spark of innovative thinking is quickly extinguished. And if the project does go ahead after due process has been followed, it’s almost certainly already obsolete by the time it’s completed.

“While 75% of large companies judge themselves as sufficiently entrepreneurial, 75% of those entrepreneurs who previously worked at large companies left because they did not feel they could be entrepreneurial there.” Harnessing the Power of Entrepreneurs to Open Innovation

How to fix it

Once the innovation strategy is in place, organizations must create an environment in which intellectual curiosity, challenging of the status quo and experimentation are actively encouraged, at all levels. This doesn’t just mean giving the natural intrapreneurs the time and tools to test out their ideas (although that is critical). It means encouraging and enabling everyone to participate in designing the future of the organization.

That means putting in place an organization-wide framework to enable innovation to happen, and changing entrenched mindsets by actively including them in innovation efforts and discussions. Not many traditional organizations are equipped to drive this kind of all-pervasive approach themselves, so partnering with experts that can teach everyone how to innovate is almost certainly the surest way to success.

“We don’t expect someone without training to build a discounted cash flow model or develop a marketing segmentation. So why do we expect our colleagues and leaders to suddenly manifest an ability to innovate? Like any other business function or discipline, innovation has tradecraft that we can learn, practice and hone.” Forbes, You’re Doing Innovation Wrong


Find out how to let innovation flourish in our free eBook: 
How to beat the digital disrupters at their own game


Innovation in action: Thomas Cook Group

Everyone could feel the customer pain, nobody could help

Thomas Cook Group wanted to reduce the time taken to resolve customer complaints since its previous complaint-handling processes were siloed by different systems and processes. The result was a lack of communication, long times to resolution and overall customer frustration.

These problems didn’t just affect customers. Staff on the ground at Thomas Cook resorts also felt the pain as the existing processes did not empower them to resolve customer issues on the spot.

A mean, lean, test & learn machine

David Spickett, Thomas Cook’s Head of Lean, led a lean startup project (that he called a “test and learn” approach), to quickly design a new, web-based complaint-handling app that resort staff could use on mobile devices, to address customer issues swiftly on the day they arose.

To ensure the app met the needs of resort reps and customer services staff, Thomas Cook built a working prototype quickly, allowing focus groups comprised of real users to trial the system and provide their feedback – fast.

The app incorporated a “system feedback” button to enable users to provide their improvement suggestions directly into the app itself. And because it was built with a Low-code tool, any feedback received could be actioned quickly without hand-offs or delays for programming.

MVP to Enterprise, immediately

Applications built in MATS are having a major impact. The test and learn approach was a huge success, enabling David’s team to prove the business case in a single resort pilot, without significant upfront investment and avoiding a projected 12-month IT delay. Average complaint resolution time dropped from 28 days to less than seven.

The proven and refined app was then immediately rolled out to all 92 resorts. So now the majority of issues are fully resolved before a customer travels home, meaning better holidays and happier customers, and far less workload for back-office customer relations staff.

“This was probably the fastest process and systems improvement project we’ve seen in the business.” David Spickett, Head of Lean, Thomas Cook Group

Accelerate digital innovation with Low-code

One of the most fruitful things you can do to accelerate digital innovation in your organization, and to enable everyone to participate in it, is to invest in a Low-code development platform, one which is designed to enable technical and non-technical staff alike to quickly test out ideas for new applications or automated processes.

You can easily design new processes, quickly build a prototype, test it with a group of end users, then build a proper, working, enterprise-ready application based on their feedback. And all in just days, and without needing an army of digital programmers.

With MATS, as with the Thomas Cook example above has shown, even the most traditional organizations can innovate fast – often faster than the startups nipping at their heels.