Crowd DNA knowledge leader, Aurelie Jamard, and exec, Berny McManus, share notes from Time Out innovation director Eleanor Ford's Shoreditch House talk on the innovation spectrum – from collaboration to renovation to retrieval...
Innovation is a hot topic. It’s a forward thinking concept that generates excitement, energy and fresh perspectives. So the obvious question to ask at this point would be: if innovation is so hot, then why hasn’t every company adopted and integrated this concept into their business? The short answer: misconceptions exist around innovation.
Many companies see innovation as a radical, disruptive change that is near impossible to tackle, when it is actually about acknowledging your company’s strengths and adapting them to an evolving context. In a nutshell, improving on what you do best.
In a recent talk at Shoreditch House, Eleanor Ford (director of innovation at Time Out and founder of LikeCube) detailed how innovation should not be seen as a total departure from a company’s ethos. It’s about fostering a culture within a business to allow for adaption and malleability in product and service design. Innovation should not indicate a loss of identity for a company, but it will ensure that it stays culturally relevant and competitive within its market.
We’ve handpicked a few of our favourite ideas from Eleanor’s talk to inspire innovation within any company.
Technique #1 – Incubation
Time Out has a dating legacy (you might remember the days of dating ads in the print mag…), so it makes perfect sense for the brand to experiment in that space today. Except that replicating a winning formula from the past was never going to cut it. As Eleanor puts it, it’s important to retain the brand’s identity but to adapt it to a new context. So Time Out have been incubating a dating product that enables users to meet new people around their favourite occupations in their city, from swiping date ideas all the way to quickly meeting offline.
Technique #2 – Acquisition
Acquisition is another way for Eleanor to inspire innovation at Time Out. Absorbing other companies whose skills suit a particular niche in the market can only be beneficial to a big group like Time Out in bringing a breath of fresh air and specialism into the company. As a result, Time Out acquired a company to help them engage with customers directly via blogs and offer a platform for user-generated content that can be up-voted by users themselves, in the same way Reddit does, for instance.
Technique #3 – Adaptation
If you’ve travelled to Lisbon recently you might have stumbled across Time Out’s Mercado Da Ribeira, which is essentially a farmer’s market version of the magazine. You can find every section of the title represented through market stalls, shops and restaurants picked by Time Out critics, but also via a dedicated event space that hosts concerts and a club. For this new product, Time Out adapted their core values to a physical space in a different country, deciding to translate what they do best into a new context.
It’s great to see companies innovate both internally and externally, whether on a big scale or by dipping their toes in the water. If you don’t know where to start, why not give a try to one of the techniques above? And remember, innovation is not about ignoring the past, but about using it as a foundation to inspire something new.
Eleanor also referenced how Fiat kept the spirit of their Cinquecento car (beautiful design, small size, affordability) when they re-launched it in 2007. However, changes in proportions and disposable income meant that a literal translation of the old model would have not worked for the market today.