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How to Innovate Instead of Update

Another new year. Time to begin to create our next plan. Just like every year end.

I know you want to reach for last year’s plan(s). It’s a great template to get started. If you want to play last year’s game.

Your market changed significantly in the last year, as did your buyers and competitors. So why begin with a year old perspective?

Innovate Instead of Update

We humans dislike a blank anything. It’s so much easier to update than innovate. Which is why we like pulling that plan out of the drawer. That’s also why we get stuck in a rut and don’t even know it.

How can you start with a fresh perspective? Here are some ideas.

  • Ask yourself about the new trends, customer requirements and competitive movements. Focus forward
  • Brainstorm the evolution of your value. It’s shifted from last year. What’s your value for now and tomorrow?
  • Apply your new value to new market needs, instead of applying last year’s value to last year’s news.
  • Ask your teams about the key opportunities and changes they see. Gather feedback from your customer facing folks and from customers beyond your top five or ten. After all, those top five or ten may not be your best opportunities for the future. Get as many new ideas onto that blank whiteboard or page as you possibly can.
  • While you’re at it, take a look at the top three to five things that didn’t work for your business last year. Brainstorm how you can adapt to step into new thinking to transform these limiting factors into positive leverage for your business.
  • Finally, ask yourself, “What are the new opportunities I see that I’ve never addressed before?” Then decide how you can measure those opportunities to establish new and powerful foothold in at least one of those opportunity markets. Devote some part of your new year’s thinking to capturing new market positions even as you adapt to the changes in your current markets.

After you’ve brainstormed and taken your thinking out of the box – write your plan. From scratch.

The Bottom Line

We all fall into the habit of pulling that old plan (or data sheet, brochure, report, sales strategy and more) out of the drawer or laptop. It’s the way we’ve always done it, how we’ve been taught to do it.

Your competitors are following that old planning path.

Just think of the advantage you can and will create when you step into new thinking and leave them in the dust of the status quo.


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