Here’s my plan:
I will run my first marathon this year, but I’m not going to train more than a few minutes each week.
I will retire early in a multi-million dollar home on a golf course, but I’m just going to set aside a few bucks here and there when I get around to it.
I will give an inspirational, deeply admired and widely viewed TED talk next year, but I won’t spend any time crafting my message or practicing my presentation.
My guess is that your reaction is probably something like: “oh yeah, well good luck with that.”
Yet, pull back the curtain on your company’s strategic growth plans and here’s what you are likely to find:
You say you are focused on being customer-centric, but spend almost no time or money on garnering actionable customer insight and testing its implications.
You say you want to be THE leader in your industry, but more often than not you sit on the sidelines watching others bring new products and services to market and then flail desperately trying to play catch-up.
You say you are deeply committed to innovation, but don’t devote any meaningful resources to active exploration of new ideas.
For every company like Nordstrom that is putting tangible research and development in motion–through entities like their Innovation Lab or by placing small bets in hyper-growth companies like Bonobos–there are 100 that say they want innovative growth, yet spend very little time and money on it.
Sure, every once in a while a game-changing idea emerges quickly with little investment or without the benefit of a structured innovation process. Every now and then someone wins the lottery too.
If you really want a difficult outcome worth achieving, you have to make the investment. No R&D budget almost certainly means no future innovation.
If your real plan–when you cut through all the posturing, inspirational messages and denial–is to hope to get lucky, can we all agree that you really don’t have a plan?
Well, good luck with that.