We facilitated a two-day innovation strategy workshop for nearly two hundred members of a prominent, long-established brand's marketing organization. The innovation strategy workshop covered a variety of topics related to disruptive innovation.

Prior to our Brainzooming workshop, a tech speaker addressed external innovation opportunities and challenges facing the brand. After his talk, the audience posed multiple questions to get to more actionable details. One person asked him what would keep him up at night if he were a leader at their company. While our workshop hadn’t started yet, I immediately wrote one word on a sheet of paper to answer the audience question. I handed the paper to my Brainzooming co-facilitator, Emma Alvarez Gibson:

If I were at the company, except would keep me up at night. EVERY night.

The reason?

Our client’s leaders, unconstrained by anything else, know the types of disruptive innovation moves they should make. The brand has tech-centric, disruptive competitors surfacing. Related product and lifestyle categories are innovating in ways that will allow them to bundle their own version of our client's products into theirs. Major data aggregators, including any company gathering GPS and other user behavior data, could make a move into our client's space with compelling new offerings.

Yes, they likely know what and how they could employ disruptive innovation.

That's where except appears to mess things up in strategic ways.

An article I found about the brand's current innovation strategy initiatives included company executives highlighting a variety of new and exciting changes, EXCEPT they wouldn't innovate away their sales model.

Before the workshop, conversations with attendees focused on the importance the brand is placing on disruptive innovation, EXCEPT they can't mess up their current business model and revenue stream.

During the innovation workshop, participants used our Brainzooming tools and models to imagine and develop nearly two-dozen innovation strategy concepts. EXCEPT, the judges didn’t pick the one focused on giving away what they do for free to their clients in exchange for those same clients handing over all their data. That was one concept that seemed, at least to us, like a sure thing that SOME disruptive player will do.

In all of these cases, the company is taking options off the table, EXCEPT that NONE of its potentially-disruptive competitors are removing comparable options from their attack strategies.

See, what I mean?

While I understand the reluctance, EXCEPT means that our client is going to market with numerous restrictions that completely-different looking brands that are targeting them would never consider as limitations.

That's why except would keep me from getting ANY sleep.  – Mike Brown

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