Continuous innovation is one of the most important success factors in scaling your company. 85% of scale-ups have metrics to measure the speed of improving product and service performance, versus only 45% of stall-ups. Scale-ups continuously implement their learnings into creating new products and services, triggering latent customer needs and leveraging new technologies. How to make sure that you don’t lose your innovative edge during scaling?

Get ready to catch the wave

To scale means to keep innovating your product. This requires a good dose of serendipity. Although serendipity can’t be forced, you need to expose yourself to the chance of finding something unexpected and valuable. You need to be open to the opportunities of learning the unknown and creating a new-to-the-world product. “It’s like surfing”, says one CEO. “To catch a big wave, you need to be in the water on your surfboard waiting for it to come”.

Learning the unknown is about making new connections – in your brain, in your network, in your ecosystem. To make these connections, you can bring yourself in unfamiliar situations, engage in dialogue with people with different views and expertise, and form creative partnerships. This is the way to fully leverage your ecosystem and to outperform large corporations that are more focused on themselves than on the outside world.

Continuous innovation is one of the most important success factors in scaling your company. 85% of scale-ups have metrics to measure the speed of improving product and service performance, versus only 45% of stall-ups.

Implement your learnings

The following step is to translate what you have learned into a business opportunity. Innovation requires quick understanding of what works and killing initial false assumptions. Here, scale-ups have an advantage over start-ups, because they already have a base of excited customers that can help them to co-create, give feedback and try out their next products. 

Find the optimal timing

Timing is everything, also for innovation. Articulating new product and business opportunities includes finding the optimal timing of each. Some opportunities need nurturing until the market, organization or technology is ready. One scale-up CEO recalls:

We did a design thinking session half a year ago with the customers to test our next product. We set up a prototype and asked our customers: ‘What are you willing to pay for this?’ Their feedback helped us to understand whether we could already develop the product or should wait for technology advances to make it cheaper. It gave us very clear targets to work towards.

Successful scaling requires high learning velocity. Scale-ups need to go through validation, quickly understanding what works and what does not in order to keep their innovative edge. Read more about how to learn the smart way in the ScaleUpLab‘s latest article:

Learning Velocity in scale-ups: Learning the smart way, not the hard way

As a scale-up, you do not need to learn from failure.

If you want to learn at less risk and costs, read the ScaleUpLab‘s full article on Learning Velocity.

Read Full Article

Research on learning velocity in scale-ups is conducted by ScaleUpNation and supported by the Goldschmeding Foundation and Europees Fonds voor Regionale Ontwikkeling (EFRO).

Liselore Haverman

Author Liselore Haverman

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