06.10.2020 Fabian Roschig

Why “fail fast” and break things is not en vogue any more.

Why “fail fast” and break things is not en vogue anymore.

Innovation efficiency and finding problems worth solving from the start seems to be the “newest trend”.

More pressure, more opportunities, less budget.

If we didn’t perceive the external driving forces before COVID-19, Corona now drastically increased the pressure to be innovative.

90% of executives believe that COVID-19 decisively changes the way you operate your business in the next 5 years.*

85% of executives are worried that COVID-19 has a long-term impact on customer needs.*

84% of German executives say that the future of their business lies in innovation.**

3/4 of international executives agree that changes brought about by COVID-19 will be a big opportunity for growth.**

So most executives agree that the pressure is on, innovation budgets are critical now to post-crisis growth, and that the past is no longer a predictor to the present.

On the other hand, due to the effects of COVID-19 cash flow is a critical criterion. What in the past could have lead to action bias and impulsive decision making, now transitioned to carefully selecting where to put every innovation €/$ to reduce waste and effort.

Being risk-averse has upgraded to another level.

As one of the largest European industries, France might be a valid indicator.

64% of large French companies were planning to cut their innovation budget.***

71% of companies said that return on investment is under more scrutiny too and was the main performance indicator for innovation.***

So shooting a shotgun in the wrong direction while blindfolded and hoping to hit the target seems to come to an end. The collection of concepts looking for a problem to solve aka “innovation theatre” came with high costs, imprecision and were often largely ineffective in producing usable and commercially viable concepts.


Innovation will be

  • A strategic imperative for future growth.
  • Based on new customer needs and changing patterns.
  • More efficient (or has to be).

Now that we know what to do the big question is how.

How to innovate efficiently?

As described in a prior post (Ideas don’t matter. Problems do.), I think we all agree that the problem is not a lack of ideas. There is normally a sheer abundance of ideas within a large organization, but generating more ideas makes the problem even worse.

When looking for a needle in a haystack, the best approach is rarely to add more hay.

The problem of problem-solving is to know which problems to pursue. So how can we prioritize and quantify problems?

We can only know with precision which solution will be adopted by customers if we know

  • how the customers measure added value? Is it a functional improvement? A financial aspect? A different way how he/she is perceived by his/her peers (social aspect)? Or even a change in how he/she feels while using the product/service?
  • what kind of progress does the user want to achieve when using the product/service. Check the famous milkshake example.
  • how to prioritize the users’ struggles? Can we quantify his struggles in a way to know which solution approach solves the most pressing issues?

Check the Jobs-to-be-done theory to deep dive on these topics.

So what are valuable problems to solve? To get closer to this abstract question we can make data-based decisions:

Value of the potential opportunity = (Number of target customers x purchase or usage frequency x willingness to pay for the current solution) / level of satisfaction with the currently available alternative


Innovation will be

  • A strategic imperative for future growth.
  • Based on new customer needs and changing patterns.
  • More efficient (or has to be).

The wastefulness inherent in failure just increases the economic pressure to succeed.

To be more efficient in executing innovation you don’t have to generate more ideas, but spend more time on the right problem to solve and invest more time and money into a systematic and repeatable discovery phase understanding the different dimensions of user needs, how the customer measures value and which specific issues you are addressing with your solution approach.

Do you want to read more about acquiring new innovation capabilities and processes to de-risk growth initiatives?

Learn how to reduce costs and the overall risk of innovation, explore new growth areas, gain speed & efficiency and acquire future-proof innovation capabilities and frameworks to navigate transformational industry shifts.

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About Me

Helping companies to reduce the risk of failure of new growth initiatives by applying an own, validated innovation process and develop the necessary innovation capabilities. Systematic, evidence-based, and user-centric.

Fabian is a hybrid between startup-founder, marketeer, and innovation consultant. At the intersection between enterprises and startups, he creates sustainable and innovative solutions to drive value for the business and consumers. In the past 12 years, he founded 2 startups, endued positions such as Country Manager Marketing & Ecommerce Latam, Spain, Portugal at Condor or COO & CMO at Telefónica Open Future and advised companies such as Condor, TUI Travel PLC, The Coca-Cola Company, or Germany’s leading sports magazine kicker in the area of innovation and business strategy.

He is also a mentor for several startups in the travel and FMCG space and a guest lecturer at ESERP, one of Spain’s leading private universities in the area of entrepreneurship and digital marketing. He is experienced in working with cross-functional teams, (C-Level) stakeholder management as well as agile project-based working methods.


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Why “fail fast” and break things is not en vogue any more. was originally published in BeyondFortune on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.