It is 2020 and innovation has become crucial: innovate or die, they say. Most companies today realize the need to innovate in order to survive, but don’t know how to get started. Lateral Strategy breaks the process down into manageable chunks and helps you get out of innovation anxiety by guiding you through each step of the way. Whether you’re doing research to discover what needs to get done, ideating or validating a solution to get your idea to move forward, we know innovation is a struggle. We also know, that reluctance to innovate can crush a business, and we won’t let it crush yours.
So what can a company do to avoid being disrupted?
If you are a leader, then you understand how people feel about your product or service, right? Companies focus time and energy understanding the practical value of their products or service, but the symbolic value of the situation in which the product is bought, the stories, the complexities, and the quiet grievance behind why they buy is often left unattended. Companies have taken a mathematical approach to understanding consumers, and that can turn into liability.
At Lateral Strategy, we have noticed a massive disconnect between why people buy and why companies think people buy. When companies don’t understand what space their brand holds in the consumer’s life, they are missing out on a crucial aspect of insight hunting and innovation. Companies cannot continue being linear about innovation. They need to read between the lines to discover that, buried underneath what people do not say, is a treasure trove of opportunities.
The first step to innovate is therefore to understand consumers and the problem they would like to get solved. Articulating unmet needs is hard because ideas are fragile. That means, we wished the problem gets solved, but hardly know how it could be solved. The best way to approach innovation is through Human Centric Research, or the kind of research that allow client’s to understand consumer’s unspoken needs and values.
Research that is done through traditional methodologies may not yield the human insights needed to innovate. After years of taking a traditional approach to research and later becoming research user ourselves, we noticed how much potential there was to ask more meaningful questions and to make research more insightful through the use of different projective and creative dynamics. So Lateral Strategy took a different approach: we started doing research with the consumer in mind instead of the brand. That way people would reveal desires they might not even have known they had, and our brands were enabled to act upon them.
Because we are innovation developer’s, our research process is different. We start every project by asking clients what decision they want to make with the information gathered and what gaps of information they currently have. We call this the burning question– the questions they need answered before making a decision.
The biggest predictor of a client’s enthusiasm for innovation is the amount of interest they dedicate to discovering their burning research question. If they are looking for something quick and easy, or prefer to delegate the work completely, it is very likely that they are doing the research to cross it off their to do list or to confirm a preestablished hypothesis. In those situations, we recognize that we may not the right fit to lead the project, not because we don’t want to take on that type of work, but because Lateral Strategy focuses on actionable research and we know our talent will be underutilized. That is what we mean when we say we are looking for BOLD clients. Our best work is for BOLD people that are seeking BOLD opportunities to push INNOVATION forward.
Unfortunately, many clients still see research as a mere checkmark on their to-do list, something that needs to be done simply because that’s “just the way we were taught.” Shortcomings are rarely questioned, and flaws are seldom addressed. The marketplace has changed, and consumers have changed, but companies continue to rely on the traditional – an overly corporate business environment that makes seeking deeper understanding a challenge.
And that is why getting to the burning question is important. In the end it is really up to the client to decide whether they want a steak or a hot dog, and either choice is fine. The decision largely depends on what will be done with the information obtained- will they pursue innovation or add a checkmark to the “to-do” list?
At Lateral Strategy, we love innovation. We are committed to helping companies develop innovations through 2 services: Human Centric Research and Innovation Development. On our mission to recover the bold spirit traditional researchers have lost we avoid traditional methodologies to reveal what brands are really capable of. To this end, we are revolutionizing the way in which information is gathered and interpreted. Our goal is to inspire your team to find breakthrough solutions for the consumers they wish to serve.