At the end of the day, the one thing that any business needs to thrive and survive is innovation. The act of innovating, of creating something new with plenty of value, is what drives a company forward and up. Nick Webb, CEO of Cravve and author of The Innovation Mandate: The Growth Secrets of the Best Organizations in the World, delves into the nature and place of innovation in any business: new, old, growing, or slowing down. The world marketplace has always been driven by the consumer, so when they’re not responding to your business, that just means you’re not listening to what your consumers need.
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When Innovation Creates Growth With Nick Webb
I have an awesome guest. We’re going to keep going on this theme of entrepreneurship. This individual is someone that I wanted to get on to speak specifically about the idea of innovation as well as the customer and how the customer is changing at a rapid pace. How important it is for the entrepreneur to keep up and how to do that, more importantly. My guest is Nicholas Webb. He is the Founder and CEO of LeaderLogic. He is a world-renowned business strategist, best-selling author and futurist. As an inventor, Nicholas created one of the first wearable technologies and one of the first smallest medical implants. He is the Founder and CEO of Cravve, a top business growth consulting firm. He has been awarded over 45 patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office for a wide range of cutting-edge technologies. He is the bestselling author of several books, What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint. His other book came out in September 2019, which is called The Innovation Mandate: The Growth Secrets of the Best Organizations in the World.
Nick, it’s amazing to have you on. Thank you so much for spending this time. How is everything going in your world?
It’s good. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Nick, we’ve been spending a lot of time on the show learning about many different aspects of entrepreneurship. What I love about what you write and speak about is the idea of innovation. It’s clear to everyone that we are rapidly advancing as a society. It’s like we’re being unconsciously conditioned to buy differently, to get our news differently, to be entertained, manage our money and learn. In your book, you talk all about this. You make the case for innovation and being that variable that distinguishes successful and unsuccessful companies. Can you expand on that for us?
The best way to look at the term that everybody is using is disruption. If you think about what disruption is, it’s another way of saying difference, but that difference is much bigger than it ever has been before. The speed of differentness has sped up. In a time of differentness, most organizations that are failing are those organizations that are committed to the status quo. What I found after researching a few years ago with my book, What Customers Crave and The Innovation Mandate, I found that the best organizations without a doubt are those organizations that understood their customers better. They rapidly develop new business models, new economic models, new products and services. As a result of that, they’re absolutely growing at a rate that is hard to believe. Whereas these large established companies like Toys “R” Us, Sears and others are failing at mathematical certainty.Don't burn up your resources trying to take something that isn't valuable out to the market. Click To Tweet
How do you define or characterize innovation?
I come in innovation in a pretty well-rounded way. I started my career inventing medical technologies. My first technology was one of the world’s smallest micro-silicone implants for ocular surface disease. You could say innovation is about the bright shiny object. I spend 43 patents. Working with enterprise, I began to realize that some of the best innovations are going to be new ways in which I deliver more consumer value to people or in the case of a business-to-business model client value. What that looks like is the definition of innovation is pretty straight forward. It’s the new value that serves you, your organization and your customer. It can be new ways to introduce new business models that you borrow from another industry. It can be new packaging. It can be new ways in which you answer your telephone. It can be cutting-edge technologies. It’s anything that serves your organization and customer that’s new and valuable.
How often should a company be innovating?
It should be a continuous process. The best way to look at it is that innovation is like a stock portfolio. It’s comprised of incremental innovations, which is a constant way in which we get better. There are landmark innovations which are significant ways that we improve the way that we deliver value to our enterprise and our customers, then there are breakthrough and disruptive innovation. Across that continuum of those four different types of innovations, we should be doing this all the time. The problem is that client and customer value or expectation is continuing to climb. Amazon, when they first launched, you wait a week and you’ll get whatever you order. Now, most everything comes in two days. I can tell you within the next few years, the real battlegrounds with Walmart, Target and Amazon will be getting to you any product you can think of within hours.
Could a company say that they’re innovating and still fail?
I think so because the problem with innovating is the overwhelming majority of things we innovate are bad. To give you an idea, there are about 3,000 patents that are issued each year. Only about 2% of those ever reached successful commercialization. The good news is if you develop an innovation pipeline as I talk about in my book, we do what I encourage people to do with every part of their life and that is to fail fast. If you fail fast, you don’t burn through resources. You don’t take fuel up trying to take something to the market that doesn’t have a value. The good news is if you develop an innovation pipeline, you can eliminate a lot of those mistakes. People invent lame stuff all the time and it fails in the market and usually, it’s because they don’t understand their customer.
That’s where I wanted to take the conversation because there was a Utah company where I’m based that had spent $60 million in funding and laid off a huge amount, 60% or 70% of their workforce. It was a technology company in Silicon Slopes, which is a very innovative place in Salt Lake City. I went and did some research. The company is called Canopy. They were trying to create a new platform for CPAs to use. I found it fascinating because CPAs are some of the hardest customers and probably the most loyal customers because of how their mind works. Can you speak about when somebody doesn’t understand their customers? How vital is it to continue to discover better ways to meet their needs?
In my consulting practice, we work with some of the top brands in the world. One of the big problems is you can’t deliver value to somebody you don’t understand. Most people use technologies like VoC, which stands for the Voice of the Customer or they use net promoter scores, which are fine, but in my opinion, they’re fractional and they’re non-actionable. If only it was that easy to look at a graph and a spreadsheet. Steve jobs never used those methods in any big way. He just understood his customer. In fact, he understood his customers so well that he invented products they didn’t even know they needed yet. We get there not through looking at traditional demography.
Most people use demographic market analysis. That’s the most common way combined with survey data and focus groups. Most of it is wrong because they’re looking at people and pigeonholing them into customer personas based on those old-fashioned methods. What we need to do is to look across our customers based on what they hate and what they love and develop what I talk about in What Customers Crave. I talk about hate-love personas, then in The Innovation Mandate, I talk about how do we weaponize those understanding what customers hate and love. The one thing that we know for sure is that all customers hate friction. Right off the bat, you don’t need to do a survey to find out that customers hate friction. You can go in and look for friction, right off the bat pretty much every persona hates friction.
Across most personas, they hate the lack of relevance. It has to be relevant to them. It has to be customizable in many cases. What we do in our practice, we look at an organization and we do what’s called Customer Experience Readiness Assessment. We look at their innovation capabilities and their customer infrastructure to find out how they get information, how they deliver that information into new innovations and how did they deploy those innovations? You have to do it like a medical pathway. You start with a good diagnosis, understand where there are resources, tools and system gaps. You build out a fast and fluid agile roadmap that allows you to go in and do the stuff. You’re not going to get it through graphs, spreadsheets and the traditional things that we’ve done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
It’s amazing where you’ve had economic law for a long time and there’s Say’s Law, which is fascinating to me because you hit the nail on the head with Steve Jobs. Customers don’t want products. They want solutions. They want to feel a certain way. If you can connect with that and always be seeking ways to do that. I think that is one of those very special variables about successful innovation.Successful businesses begin to fail when they lose sight of what got them where they were in the first place. Click To Tweet
If you look at Spotify, they didn’t re-invent the music. They invented better moments of music. Netflix didn’t re-invent video. They created better moments of movies. Amazon created better moments of merchandise. Apple created better moments of machines. I could go on and on. It’s about moments. How do we look at those five touchpoints, the pre-touch moment, the first touch moment, the core experience, the last touch and the in-touch moment? Understand that across a range of personas to invent perfect and beautiful experiences. When we can do that, the impact on the organization is incredible. In fact, 85% of the top brands in the world are using CX, customer experience innovation as their primary way that they drive sustainable growth and profitability.
This is fascinating and we’ve touched on a few of these things. It sounds like you have some tools and resources. Parts of your business revolves around helping entrepreneurs and companies to take what we’re talking about philosophically and make it a reality. Would you speak to some of the things that you’re doing to help companies?
The problem is there is this disruption evolutionary curve with both entrepreneurs and large companies. We start our businesses because we’re focused on the customers. We know those customers. In many cases, we are those customers. We’re the skateboarders that invent a new skateboard or whatever. We tend to be very customer-centric and that is what started the growth. That’s what started us on a trajectory of growth, then we realized that we need to innovate. We need to go beyond what we’d launched with. We focus on innovation and customer. During that period of time, organizations enjoy predictable growth. Then they begin to realize that, “Now, we’re a business and we need to create the infrastructures, the HR. We need to look at insurance, facilities and all of the complexities that create the substrate for running a business.”
We become operational. What happens during that period of time if we’re not careful is we take our gaze off the customer. We take our gaze off of innovation and we become hyper internally focused. We start to churn in operationalization. All of our resources, our money, our times and our meetings are all about the optimization of the machine. That’s where we start to see what we call scale fail because we lost sight of what got us there in the first place. What we like to do is to look at entrepreneurs and businesses. We primarily work with large organizations, but we do work with startups and medium-sized companies. We take a look at their current state of innovation and customer experience readiness because we are in a customer experience economy, a frictionless economy.
That’s where the differentiators are. You can buy anything you wanted anytime anywhere with a few thumb movements. You can look at the hyper influences of social ratings. Everything we need to buy anything anytime is right in front of us. How do you differentiate in a time of hyper-competition? The answer is you have to find ways to go above that customer’s baseline level of expectation across the personas and throughout those five touchpoints. We look at all the things that make that happen and then we assist them in building out the roadmap to get back to that focus of customer and innovation.
It sounds like you work with larger companies and enterprises. With regards to your book, reading or listening to your book, are there tools that you provide that would help maybe some of the smaller businesses or people that are getting started? Maybe people that are at the point where they are scaling and realizing that the lack of innovation or better marketing is starting to inhibit their overall production.
I’ve tried to write books for the muffler shop up to the multinational corporation. The truth of the matter is there are slight variations between the principles that are necessary to make one of those organizations work. You can’t be a good author without at some point being a lousy author. Early on in my writing, I was more interested in creating content without thinking about how I weaponize it with takeaways. In The Innovation Mandate, what I do is I create takeaways at the end of each chapter that says, “Here’s your shop. We’re going to talk about insights and here’s what you do about it.” The best way for people to use the book is that they’ll find that the takeaways there are very practical. They’re not targeted to multibillion-dollar corporations. They could apply to the startup and to the entrepreneur as well.
Nick, this has been an awesome interview. Thank you so much. I know we’ve focused on these few things. I see many signs out there of industries on the brink of being disrupted. A lot of these grandfather industries know things are changing, but they still have faith that their model is going to sustain them. It’s this state of denial that are a lot of industries are in. It’s going to be an interesting 5 to 10 years. I look at the simplicity of your message, but yet how profound it is. It’s the idea of understanding the customer and always improving the ways in which we’re providing value to them. I love what you’re talking about and speaking about because, in the end, the customer is always going to win.The best innovations are the ones that deliver more value to the consumer. Click To Tweet
The customer is the one that chooses to buy and continue to buy. I love the message. Hopefully, you as an audience are realizing this as it relates to your specific business or enterprises and you use maybe some of the ideas Nick has put together in his book. We’re grateful for you in putting the effort and time to write a book on this specific subject. How could people connect with you, follow you and if they are in the right situation, potentially use your services or the services of your company?
On the speaking side, my website is simply NickWebb.com. I speak at about 70 events around the world each year. On the consulting side, the website is simply GoLeaderLogic.com. That’s where we provide a range of consulting services across innovation, strategy and customer experience.
Nick, it’s amazing to have you on. Thank you so much for your time. I would stay in touch for sure.
That sounds great. Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
- What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint
- The Innovation Mandate: The Growth Secrets of the Best Organizations in the World
- Silicon Slopes
About Nick Webb
Nick Webb is a world-renowned Strategist, Bestselling Author and Futurist. As an Inventor, Nicholas invented one of the first wearable technologies, and one of the world’s smallest medical implants. He has been awarded over 40 Patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office for a wide range of cutting-edge technologies. Nicholas is the founding CEO of LeaderLogic, LLC, a Management Consulting Firm. Nicholas is the author of The Innovation Playbook, The Digital Innovation Playbook and his Number One Best-Selling Book on Patient Experience entitled, What Customers Crave.
His just released book, The Innovation Mandate is available in bookstores worldwide. As an Advisor, he works with some of the top brands to help them lead their market in Enterprise Strategy, Customer Experience (CX) and Innovation. Western University of Health Sciences, a Top Southern California Medical School, awarded Nicholas his Doctorate of Humane Letters. Nicholas is also an Adjunct Professor of Healthcare Innovation and the Chief Innovation Officer of the Center for Health Innovation at Western University of Health Sciences.
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