Peter Fisk’s new interview with South Korea’s leading business newspaper

January 24, 2016

Maeil Business News is South Korea’s leading daily business newspaper, based in Seoul, and with a circulation of 900,000. To start the new year, it did a feature interview with Peter Fisk to explore what it takes to be a “gamechanger” business today, and how leaders can drive more profitable and sustained growth through better innovation in fast-changing markets.

Read the interview online (in Korean).

Question 1: First off, everyone has ideas to making innovation and changing the world, but not everyone becomes a “gamechanger”. What do you think is the essential difference between those who simply have good ideas and those who become a game changer?

The best opportunities for business – to find new growth, to engage customers more deeply, to stand out from the crowd, to improve their profitability – is by seizing the opportunities of changing markets. The best way to seize these changes is by innovating – not just innovating the product, or even the business itself, but by innovating the market.

Today’s most successful businesses – from Airbnb to Tesla, Apple to Uber – innovate the market – what it is, and how it works. Most businesses accept the market as a given – the status quo – and compete within it, with slightly different products and services, or most usually by competing on price. Most new products are quickly imitated, leading to declining margins and commoditisation. This is not a route to long-term success in a rapidly changing world.

Fast-changing markets demand fast-changing businesses … Winning in this new world requires a bigger ambition – to change the game, not just play the game.

“Gamechangers” innovate their market, and then innovate their business – Like WhatsApp creating $19bn in three years, Uber $50bn in 5 years … These companies harness the power of ideas and networks to create exponential business impact.

It all starts with an idea – indeed, you could say we now live in an “ideas economy”. Gamechangers typically have really big ideas – not ones that can be quickly copied by others. Most ideas are incremental, and most ideas in business are usually around product functionality. Gamechangers are more audacious … They think about making things 10 times better, not just 10% better … They think beyond the product, to the service and channel, the business model and customer experience. And ultimately how the market works.

And of course, ideas are not enough. You need to make them happen. That can also be a creative process. In particular the ways in which you collaborate with customers and business partners to make new ideas happen – using concepts such as design thinking to explore deeper, lean innovation to implement faster, co-creation to engage people more closely, and new business models to ensure they generate superior returns.


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Question 2. One of the characteristics of a game changer is that the person or a company seizes the opportunity for a change. How do businesses (businesspeople) determine when is the right time to change the world? If the opportunity fails, how can businesses mend the failure in order to reach a game-changing opportunity the next time?  

There is no right or wrong time. Markets are in a constant state of change. The trick is to make a change that is in tune with the changing attitudes and aspirations of customers, with the capabilities of technology, and to do it before the competitors do.

Think about electric cars, for example. The challenge for Tesla as an innovator is not simply to create a great electric car, but to create the market for the car too. This means creating demand, competition, and infrastructure. Tesla works hard to create a vision that engages people emotionally in the benefits of electric, as well as the love for their brand. They started with a high-end niche roadster to build aspiration, and are now introduced mid and lower-end models for the mass market. They gave away much of their IP to encourage competitors to grow the market with them, and with their sister business Solar City, they are creating the world’s largest electric charging network.

Of course, Tesla could just have waited for somebody else to do this. But they wanted to create a new “game” which they could shape. They wanted to create the future of automotive in their own vision, and to define the rules (the infrastructure, the standards, the expectations) to their own advantage.

Question 3. Gamechangers attempt to making innovations in four ‘areas’: why (changing the game by changing business purpose), who (changing the game by changing the target), what (changing the game by changing customer experience, products), how (changing the game by changing business models, service methods). Of the four, which is the ‘area’ that most companies attempt to go for? Why?

Most companies like to focus on the “what” (the product, service and experience). This is where they have conventionally succeeded. They seek to innovate within the existing game. Most of their solutions are similar to competitors – small differences to design and functionality, and small differences in prices. Eventually, focus on the what, leads us to sameness – to commoditization, to price discounting and diminishing profits. By first thinking about the “why” and then the “how”, you can “reframe” what you are about – to redefine the market, on your own terms.

This is what Apple did with the personal computer market. This is what Dyson did with the home cleaning market. Or Supercell did in the gaming market. Or Desigual in the fashion market … They stopped to think, to think bigger and smarter. Right now you can see the next generation of game changers doing the same … 23andMe in healthcare, SpaceX in space travel, OneWeb in global internet. DJI in drones.

Competitive advantage in today’s fast and crowded markets is not about being slightly better, or slightly cheaper, it is about having a better vision, a better view of the market, and how you can make people’s lives better. They “out-think” the competition. This is what makes the great business leaders stand out – Akio Morita, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson – they are visionaries, but also revolutionaries – to challenge, to disrupt, to create – in order to leap forwards.

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Question 4. In some cases, innovators (gamechangers) don’t get recognized immediately (right after the release of an innovative product). Similarly, some products don’t become a game changing product until sometime later. Why do you think this happens?

A little like few artists become rich during their own lifetime?

I don’t think this is really true. In today’s celebrity business world, we like to celebrate the entrepreneurs and innovators, the ones who dare to change the world – and do.

Let’s not confuse inventors and innovators – it is the people, or companies, who make ideas and inventions happen successfully that become successful – they innovate. The genius of Steve Jobs was to imagine a new way in which we could buy, listen and store music – he then brought together all the components, existing inventions, to change the industry. He changed the game.

Similarly it is the innovators who make new ideas happen, with a direct impact on our everyday lives that become famous. Elon Musk is on the front cover of every business magazine right now. Or Jeff Bezos at Amazon, or Jack Ma at Alibaba, or Lei Jun at Xiaomi.

Question 5. After an innovation is recognized widely by the public, people have high expectations for the next products. How can innovators (or companies) overcome this kind of burden and successfully release the next innovation as they did before? If there is a real-life person or a company who continuously make innovative products, what do you think is the secret to it? Please explain in detail.

Changing the game is not about launching one product. It is about redefining the market, creating a new audience and new demand. Once you have redefined how they market works, then you are in a position to create a long series of products to succeed in it.

Apple is the obvious example. By creating a new market model, supported by a new business model, it was able to create multiple successes. In the beginning, iTunes was the real innovation, more than iPod. This changing the market, and was difficult to copy. Similarly, iPad and iPhone have become so successful, because of the App Store. Again, difficult to copy.

At the same time, there is a brand story that keeps moving. For Apple, this is about humanizing technology, combining the emotion of great design, with simplicity of intuitive technologies. Building a brand that people trust, and ultimately where all the products work together and become something much bigger. This is perhaps where Asian technology companies have been less successful so far.

You can see the same approach at Nike, at Pixar, at Tesla. It is all about “horizon planning”, whereby you create a bold and audacious “vision” working from the future back, and then plan how the journey will unfold. It is hard and soft – yin and yang, if you like. It is a functional journey of technology and functionality, but also an emotional journey of trust and desire.

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Question 6. A gamechanger is patient and persistent in accomplishing innovation and changing the world. Yet, there must be at times when they get tired of waiting. How does a game changer motivate oneself even at times of despair to accomplish his or her goals? 

Gamechangers don’t just create one product, and then wait for the world to adopt it. They are constantly working to listen and learn, to change and shape their solutions and their markets. It is about constant attention, insight and innovation. Adapting and improving.

At a product level, this means constant experimentation. James Dyson, who created the bagless vacuum cleaner, spent 15 years developing 5126 versions of his Dual Cyclone cleaner, before being satisfied. Within a year he had launched an updated version, and so on. Indeed the lean innovation methodology is all about continual prototyping and improvement – listen, test, learn, listen, test, learn.

Today’s entrepreneurial mindset is to start fast, make mistakes and learn … and then as you gain more insight and experience, “pivot” your business to where you really see the best opportunity. As examples, Pinterest started life as Tote, helping people to explore online retailers and sending them updates about prices and availability. It realised users were mainly using the site to build and share ideas lists, and soon shifted course to focus on “pinning”. Groupon began as a platform for social action called The Point, before reinventing itself in the crowd-based local coupon business.  Ushahida started as an African elections monitoring service, before growing into a crowdsourced new aggregator. Twitter emerged out of a mediocre podcasting concept called Odeo that was outshone by iTunes.

Question 7. In order to accomplish innovation and become a game changer, creativity is important. How do game changers develop their creativity? Also, some game changer’s creative idea may not be approved by executives because they don’t think the public isn’t ready for such innovation. In this case, how can game changers persuade the executives that it’s the right time to show the world such a product?

“Gamechanging” is a strategic challenge – for the whole business. It requires the full engagement of business leaders, as well as people with expertise and imagination in all parts of the business. It requires creativity, to develop new ideas, but also courage and commitment to make them happen in smart and profitable ways.

The best three sources of creativity are

  • Customer Insight – “Deep diving” to understand the needs and aspirations of customers more deeply – not just for existing products, but for making their lives better. This means spending more time with people, exploring their worlds one by one, solving real problems in new ways. This is far more insightful than the old ways of doing mass-market customer research that was limited by the questions asked, and the statistical analysis of which resulted in average solutions for average people. The new approach to is to be more selective, more intuitive and exploratory. It is based on “Design Thinking” which we lead on in my programs at IE.
  • “Parallel” Worlds – Most good ideas are already out there, but often in different places. The same consumer who buys your sports shoes, also buys food, cars, phones, games, travel and much more. Look at other “parallel” markets to see how the same people are responding to ideas in other sectors. If they sign-up to annual contracts for their phones, maybe they would do similarly for sports shoes. Or pay for the gym and get the shoes free, like in banking. Or pay per use, or by subscription, like in gaming. Don’t be obsessed with competitors, look to what your consumers are doing, and liking, in other places, then bring that to your own business.
  • “Future Back” Imagination – We each have years and years of stored experiences, dreams and frustrations, of our specific areas of work. Its time to unlock all of this, in a creative and facilitated way. Multiply this by all the other people in the organization, and you suddenly have an incredible source of ideas. Facilitated diversity brings together different perspectives, and by clearly defining the problem or the goal, we can focus our own experiences to be incredibly creative. The best way to do this is using “future back” technique, which starts with an uninhibited vision of the future and then works backwards to connect it to the real opportunities of today.

The innovation process is about creativity (divergence) and commercialization (convergence). These creative techniques are particular useful in opening up our range of thinking. My Innolab methodology is a fast and facilitated way of achieving that in corporate teams.

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Question 8. In your book ‘Gamechangers,’ you wrote that a gamechanger has contradicting personalities. For instance, they are imaginative yet they are also the first ones to recognize the limit to their imagination when it comes to making it a real product. Also, they focus and concentrate on their work but is ‘childish’ in some sense. Could you elaborate on this idea? How do other people perceive these contradicting personalities of gamechangers? How do these personalities help gamechangers work with the others in other to achieve innovation together?

Gamechangers are rarely individuals within large companies – they are teams, built around leadership and with diverse capabilities, experiences and characters. Few Gamechangers are really one individual. With teams you can bring together opposites, who challenge and stretch, and connect in new ways. They are the yins and yangs if you like. For example:

  • Logic and Magic – Rational, analytical, functional (and typically more male) approaches are important to make sense of complexity to give focus, make choices and ensure discipline. Emotional, intuitive, human (and typically more female) approaches are equally important, to see things differently, imagine possibilities make new connections. Creativity requires both.
  • Old and New – Older (typically more senior) people bring lots of experience, having worked for many years in the business, knowing the market, and also how to get things done. Younger (typically more junior) people bring freshness, energy, and new perspectives. In today’s world, both matter, and both are equally important.
  • Big and Small – Big thinking is about exploring 2020, how the world is changing, the macro trends and new possibilities, and what this means for your markets and business. Small thinking is about the detail, individual customers and product details, price points and channel selection. It is the combination of big and small that creates the future and delivers today.

Gamechanging also requires agility – the ability to act quickly, be prepared to change direction, and to live without certainty. It’s like climbing a mountain, set out your vision – the mountain peak you want to get to – and then choose your path. However you may well have to change your path depending on what its like, the weather conditions, and much more. You might sometimes even want to aim for a different peak, when you realise that the initial one is no longer appropriate.

Question 9. Do you think employees can be trained to become a gamechanger? If yes, with what specific training methods can companies lead employees to become a game changer?

Gamechanging is not simply about learning a set of skills, or following a step by step methodology, it requires you to think – in structured and imaginative ways. The Gamechanger Programs which we run at IE Business School are a combination of thinking, learning, training and creating. We challenge and inspire people to see their world differently. We also explore a range of new techniques to help shape a better future, and we apply that practically to your own markets and business.

They big traits of “Gamechangers” are these:

  • Making sense of change – We are faced by an incredible, fast-changing world with a vast diversity of new challenges and opportunities. Sense making is about seeing the drivers, the connections, the potential, and the implications for your own business. From emerging markets to emerging technologies, changing consumers and business models, it is about seeing things differently, and thinking different things.
  • Having a better vision – Developing a better view of your own future, how your market will change or could change, how your business wants to change, and how you can therefore shape the market to your own advantage. This is the highest level of strategy, its about market strategy, and is the bit most companies miss. They spend their time adapting internally to external change, but very little time sensing and shaping it.
  • Changing the game – Think of it like a sports game. How could you rethink the game of soccer – maybe a different pitch, maybe different rules, maybe different teams, maybe different scores. Similarly how can you change your market, reframing the definition of your competitive space, and then how customers and competitors operate in this space. This is the heart of your Gamechanger Strategy.
  • Design thinking – Being truly immersive in the world of existing and potential customers to understand their problems, opportunities and aspirations. It is about gaining deep insights, and then translating these into new concepts, prototypes and solutions. It is a combination of function and form, hard and soft, business and human. There are many variants on this approach, but it can be incredibly powerful.
  • Business innovation – Applying innovation to every aspect of your business – and in particular the three techniques of value propositions, business models and customer experiences. New business models lie at the heart of making your Gamechanger Strategy different and more relevant, practical and profitable. We run a fantastic program dedicated to designing and delivering New Business Models.
  • Making it Happen – Having the focus, discipline and commitment to make the change. This takes time and effort. Typically it is about using Horizon Planning, to do it in phases, to tell the new story, and move people (customers and employees) from the old to new worlds. Making it Happen is where most companies fail – great ideas, but poor implementation. It is about relentless determination, but also agility to change and refocus as you progress.

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Question 10. Relating to the prior question, how can leaders recognize someone who has the potential to become a gamechanger? If there is a real-life example of a leader who recognized and sought out an employee who later became a gamechanger, please share it in detail.

Leaders should start with themselves. Gamechanging requires leadership. Not the old style of hierarchical leadership, where companies succeeded through consistency and adherence, and the leaders used command and control (2C) to make things happen.

Gamechanger Leaders need to do all of the above – to make sense of change, to have a better vision, etc. But they also then need to engage their people, to embrace the ideas and talents of everybody in their organisations. They use a new set of behaviours to achieve this. They use the 4Cs:

  • Catalyst – they spark new thinking, they ask difficult questions, they introduce new directions
  • Connector – they bring people together, link up with new companies, fusing the unconnected
  • Communicator – they articulate vision, they summarise and simplify, they tell the new story
  • Coach – they support and develop their people, helping them to do better, and work together

Question 11. Who are the upcoming gamechangers that you are paying the closest attention to? Why do you think this person or a company is going to contribute into changing the world?

The biggest story that isn’t in the book is Uber, the taxi business that embraces a digital platform to connect drivers and passengers in a simple and addictive way. In five years they have created $450 billion value. They’ve just launched UberEats, already the world’s largest food home delivery network. Some of the other brands, innovations and stories that I see as new and interesting right now include:

  • Editas – transforming healthcare with gene editing
  • Fan Duel – fantasy American football, baseball, any sport
  • Modern Meadow – biofabrication of food, like synthetic meat
  • OneWeb – creating global internet access for everyone
  • Planetary Resources – asteroid mining for precious minerals
  • Slack – collaborative software, changing the way we work
  • Starbucks Reserve – rethinking the premium coffee experience
  • Theranos – blood testing, more personal and positive wellbeing
  • WeWork – shared workspaces, building entrepreneurial hubs

Question 12. What is the ultimate goal of a gamechanger?

To make the world a better place.

Start with this … Find a meaningful, inspiring purpose. How can your company or brand make the world better in some particular and relevant way? Everything else, from great products, to profitable growth, will follow if you can find a purpose that is bold and distinctive, relevant and important.

Stick with this … A purpose is not some strapline to lead your strategy document, or marketing brochure. It should be the ongoing, inspiring direction of your business, investors, employees, partners and customers. Keep searching to do it better. But also make it core to your performance scorecard, developing a relevant set of metrics and rewards to stay focused on why you exist.

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Question 13. What are the big trends you see shaping business in 2016 and beyond?

Trends are emerging patterns in customer behaviour that have direction and enduring impact. Whilst lots of people jump into future forecasting at the turn of a year, most trends are already established – in the margins rather than the mainstreams, in specialist niches and emerging or parallel markets. It is not about grabbing the latest idea and giving it a game, but looking for the patterns which matter. It is also about starting with the customer. Most trends are about market change, which businesses can then respond to, rather than the latest technology or business concept which can be pushed out to uninterested customers. The trick is to find the flow of markets, then flow with them, or even accelerate those flows to your advantage.

Last year I spent 45 out of 52 weeks travelling to over 50 countries, meeting around 2 million people, in at least 20 different categories … I wanted to bring what I learnt together. I call it a kaleidoscope, because (just like that great toy I had as a child!), every time you look, the different trends combine in new ways, with new opportunities and impacts. Indeed, the creativity comes in how to apply the combination of trends. Of course you can read all the funky trend reports too, which are listed down at the bottom (or just take some time off and enjoy the end of year!). But here are the 7 trends that I have developed based on pattern recognition, of changing customers and markets, and therefore what the most successful brands are likely to be doing in 2016:

  • Trend 1: Space Time… The two biggest priorities for the majority of people today are space and time. Every brand needs to think about how does it address these two challenges. Not just to reduce time, but to enhance the value of time. Not just to make it smaller, but to make smaller better. The power of your mobile phone lies in the ability not just to talk, but to work, play and learn on the move, anywhere, anytime. The value of a retail store is to do more than just showcase products you can equally see online, but to interact with people and for them to do interact with each other. Space and time also become a currency – people will pay more for faster (like Amazon Prime) and smaller (like BMW Mini). For marketers its also about being realtime – forget average ad campaigns, planned months in advance, pushed to everyone when they prefer to watch the movie on TV. Think about engaging people at the right moment, at the right place – connecting with topical issues right now, or using iBeacons in stores to customise offers to each person, here and now.
  • Trend 2: Millennial normality … We hear so much today about how “millennials”, the new generation of youthful consumers, are different. Everything about them challenges the way we think – they are digital natives, they are more global, more caring and reject the conventional practices of the mainstream. Has there ever been a new generation who didn’t? Remember back on the 60s, the hippies would change the world, and now that they are the boomers, and business leaders, they seem incredibly normal. Add to this, don’t we tell ourselves not to apply stereotypes, and to segment customers not by demographics? The reality is that Gen Y and Gen Z are really quite normal. If anything, Gen Z are quite conservative – they like security, they want families, they drink less, they work out more. Like all of us they want to make the world a better place, and work from home. Stop being obsessed by millennials, and remember that older people have most of the money to spend!
  • Trend 3: Digital gets real… We’ve become addicted to digital. Nothing else is cool. We need an app for everything. But we live in the physical world. Mobile phone connect real people in real places, online shopping allows us to buy physical things with practical applications. The challenge is to connect the two, not to see them as separate channels. To find ways in which digital makes physical experiences better, and vice versa. Nike+ helps you run faster and connect with others. Amazon Dash helps you manage your home. Lego connects you with other builders to  help you share your genius, and inspire you to do better (and buy more). 23&Me profiles your DNA for $99 and enables you to directly change your lifestyle and wellbeing. Don’t be blinkered by sexy technology, the marketing challenge is to make it useful, practical and human.
  • Trend 4: Simply better … Simplicity has been described as “the ultimate sophistication” and is certainly not easy. Most things are complex because we are lazy – lazy designers and marketers. We don’t make the effort to really understand what people want and don’t, and to decide who we are for, and who not. Instead we try to meet the needs of everyone, or even the average of nobody, and therefore create complexity. Similarly we don’t make the effort to make sense of new technologies and processes, to really think about how they can be useful and engaging, and to improve people’s lives. “Design thinking” can be a really powerful approach to uncover the deep and emotional needs of customers, to understand the right problem, and a better way to solve it. It is not research, but much more. Brands like Aldi to Swatch have discovered the magic of simplicity.
  • Trend 5: Customers together … Marketers have spent the last 20 years trying to force customers to have a relationship with them. But most don’t want one. They don’t trust you, and you’re not relevant to them. Forget CRM! What customers are interested in is what your products do for them – not the running shoes, but running faster; not the kitchen machine, but cooking great food. And they are also interested in other people like them, who share their passions. The opportunity is for brands to connect people – to facilitate C2C relationships, between not with customers. If your brand reflects their passion – for running, for cooking – then they will use it like a platform to come together. This might be a physical or virtual “community”. Collaboration then becomes much easier, because they want to co-create, to share, to achieve more about what they love together.
  • Trend 6: Automation gets serious … Machines, robotics and artificial intelligence have been developing for a long time. But now they really are taking over many of our traditional processes. Look at any sophisticated factory today – cars are made entirely by robots. Look at the best customer service centres – 95% of questions can be answered better through algorithms and intelligent programs. “Machine learning” is making this ability of machines to learn and become more intelligent, even intuitive, a reality. Drone deliveries of mail and parcels is only a few years away. This creates speed and efficiency, convenience and personalisation like never before. It also challenges us to find more useful jobs for the people who used to do these things, to find ways in which human beings add more  emotional and irreplaceable value.
  • Trend 7: China is everywhere … Whilst western economies struggle to grow at 1 or 2%, China is still growing at 7%, and has by far the largest market of new customers who are discovering brands, and non-essential aspirations, for the first time. The opportunity is to reach out to this huge market, but also to recognise the growth of Chinese companies too. Haier, for example, is now the world’s largest white goods company, and probably the most innovative too – just look at their Coda pocket washing machine. Tom Cruise’s latest Mission Impossible move is entirely funded by Chinese investors. Therefore we can all learn from Chinese innovation, partner with Chinese companies even locally, and also seek their investment to allow us to grow our own businesses faster and further.

Question 14. What are your tips for anyone seeking to innovate and grow their business?

  • Tip 1: Business is about people… creating what customers really want, and then employees working together to deliver it. We are all experts on people. There is no PhD for common sense. What you need is the confidence to think like a human being, to be intuitive and emotional, to challenge the old conventions, and use your imagination. All the tools and techniques of business will help, but the starting point is to be human.
  • Tip 2: Listen to customers… When did you last spend a whole day observing, listening and talking to your clients or consumers. Design thinking is all about diving deeper into the world of the customer. Don’t just ask them to tick boxes in a questionnaire. Try to work out what their real problems are, their dreams, their frustrations. Do it every week. Really. You are never “too busy”. And harness the the right insights.
  • Tip 3: The best ideas are out there … probably not in your own geographical market, or business sector, but in other categories and countries. Don’t just sit there trying to be slightly better, slightly cheaper than your competitors. Instead look to other places, where ideas are already being used (its like a free research lab), and which you can take and apply to your own business.
  • Tip 4: Make new connections … that is how Leonardo da Vinci described innovations. Therefore look for things which don’t forget – which seem like opposites, even a paradox, then find a way to resolve it. For example, take the Airbnb model of sharing and apply it to your business, what do you get? Or the subscription model of Zipcars, or the freemium model of Spotify. Take two different products are try combining them together.
  • Tip 5. Together is better … the power of a team will always triumph over lone genius. Its amazing how we still think we can do better alone. Use the power of diversity to achieve more, even each person only has part of the answer, it is the diversity of their knowledge and experiences that beats any one person. Facilitate this carefully (this is a real skill), to bring out the best in everyone, to integrate and shape it together.
  • Tip 6. Networks are exponential … Businesses don’t need all the capabilities themselves, its about finding the right partners to do each task better, and to bring all the partners together as an ecosystem. It is then about reaching markets through networks – social, chains, licensing. Networks can multiply your business much further and faster – exponentially.
  • Tip 7.The power of one page … the one page strategy, the one page business case, the one page project pitch, the one page marketing strategy. People are incredibly busy, and attention is scarce, so being able to bring things together in one page is incredibly powerful (maybe its one page of text, or an infographic, or a rich picture, or even a poster). It is also a great discipline, to get you to focus on what matters, and articulate it clearly.
  • Tip 8. Be the Gamechanger … The big idea of my new book “Gamechangers” is to not simply innovate the product or service (because it will be copied before you launch it!) but to innovate the market (the “game” – how it works, the price points, the channels, the rules), and then innovate the business (especially the “business model” – how you will work to make money in the new game). Start from the market, then work inwards.
  • Tip 9. Don’t be afraid… I often start a consulting project having no idea what the solution might be, or exactly how to get there. The skill is to have the confidence to get started, and to adapt as you learn more about the problem, and your solution develops. Build a prototype early – a picture, a cardboard model, or a real quick solution – which allows people to focus on something and make it better.
  • Tip 10. “10x not 10%” … what I learnt from Google’s X Labs is the power of thinking bigger. Being audacious. Most of us keep looking for the 10% improvement ( to make products 10% better, to drive 10% more sales than last year). Incrementalism makes us lazy, and we always seek to squeeze a little more out of the old, out-dated thinking. Instead think from the future back, with bigger and bolder ideas, then work towards them.

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Question 15. What is your next book going to be about?

I’m working on three concepts. I am using the “lean start-up” methodology  to develop them quickly and test them with audiences, and then to decide which one is the better concept to turn into a book. This is important because in reality a book becomes a whole service offering – events, masterclass, consulting, toolkits etc. Maybe your own readers can tell me which of these concepts they prefer (email me your views!)

  • Market Makers” … this is specifically about how to create and shape markets to your advantage. It is therefore about strategy that starts outside, by developing a better vision of your future market and how you can make it happen, rather than most strategies which start inside, based on what assets you have, or what you have always done, and how to do it better. There are three types of Market Makers – first, companies who seek to reframe their market (Time Warner, as an example, who redefined themselves in the entertainment rather than communications market); second, companies who connect markets together (Beauty’In from Brazil, as an example, which connects the markets of cosmetics and food); third, companies who create completely new markets (like Planetary Resources, for example, who are a asteroid mining company). They are create and shape markets in their own vision, to their own advantage – a more exciting, innovative, and distinctive strategy for success.
  • “Superhuman Business”… people can do amazing things, when their environment and support, motivation and rewards, are all in alignment. That’s more important than ever in a technological world, where automation is easy, and people add more value, in more human ways. We take our insights from cultural situations – for example, the Greek age of knowledge, where the collective wisdom of many scholars was able to push each other to new levels; or the Terrahumara Indians of Mexico who are able to run for 24 hours over amazing distances because that is their culture; or in the business world the impact of innovation clusters like Silicon Valley, Espoo in Finland, or Hyderabad, where technology drives ideas in an amplified way. The questions is how to apply this to the world of business – to be a great business leader, if you want to deliver fantastic customer service in a call centre, or if you want to drive amazing innovation in products.
  • “Exponential Brands”… we live in a world where the world’s largest accommodation business owns no property, where the world’s largest retailer own no inventory, the world’s largest media company owns no content. Airbnb, Alibaba and Facebook play by new rules – ideas and networks. The impact can be incredible – Whats App has created $19bn of value in 3 years, Uber $50bn in 5 years, Alibaba $200bn in 14 years. Exponential! But most of think in linear ways. Linear thinking is not enough (imagine moving forwards one step every year … 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), whereas exponential thinking is dramatic (imagining moving forward like this … 1, 2, 4, 16, 256). So how can your business harness the power of ideas and networks to drive exponential business models, with exponential impact?

© Peter Fisk 2016

Peter Fisk is a professor of strategy, innovation and marketing at IE Business School in Madrid and CEO of the GeniusWorks. He is author of “Gamechangers”, and a global thought leader in making sense of a changing world, and how to lead smarter innovation and sustain profitable growth.

To find out about the Gamechangers Program for business leaders, go to www.ie.edu/gamechangers

To explore more of Peter Fisk’s ideas, read more about these companies, watch videos, and download articles and case studies, go to www.theGeniusWorks.com

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