What Makes a Good Innovation Story?
The ability to frame ideas in a compelling manner is critical for companies working on innovation. Developing new products involves enormous levels of uncertainty. Entrepreneurs, therefore, need to get their story straight if they want to get attention – and funding.
So what is the most effective way for a company to frame its innovation story?
The winds of change
Based on the analysis of over a thousand cases, experts at McKinsey studied the categories into which business stories tend to fall, and the way in which these categories impact their success. They discovered that nearly half of most of the successful cases were those that rode big global trends.
The successful entrepreneurs position themselves as expert navigators who caught the wind of change and were in the right place at the right time. They did so not by sheer luck, but thanks to a powerful blend of experience, instinct, and vision that placed the CEO, the management team and the company in a unique position relative to their competitors.
Things will never be the same
This big change approach is also the starting point advocated by strategic messaging and positioning expert Andy Raskin. Pitches may start with a problem, or a product, or a team; great pitches start with change. By identifying and responding to an undeniable shift in the world, entrepreneurs can create both big stakes and tremendous urgency for their proposition. When the world is changing, no one wants to be left behind. This change should not be a debatable forecast, but something new and at the same time already visible. And because they are part of a significant global shift, their ideas will almost inevitably succeed.
You’re not the source of the change; rather, you help prospects embrace and thrive in the new world that the change creates.
But what kinds of major shifts are useful to frame an innovation story? McKinsey has identified three hot spaces in which innovation “temperature” is high: global growth shifts, new societal deals and accelerating industry disruption.
Investors love companies that respond to these unstoppable trends. And recent studies show that a company benefiting from such tailwinds is up to eight times more likely to rise to the top of the economic-profit performance charts than one that is facing headwinds.
A ride into the future
As Robert McKee, the world’s best-known and most respected screenwriting lecturer puts it: change is what grabs people’s attention, and great stories are all about how and why life changes in response to an irreversible event.
As long as things are moving on an even keel, you pay attention to whatever you’re doing. But if something around you changes—if the temperature around you changes, if the phone rings—that gets your attention.
Business leaders who understand the changes underway – and who are able to convert them into a compelling strategic narrative – have an extraordinary opportunity to make an impact. When they pitch their innovation, they are not asking investors to fund a promising business with a ground-breaking product. Instead, they are offering investors the opportunity to be part of a revolution, a new way of thinking, living and working. They are selling them a ticket to the future.
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