We’re going from history – we can’t start in the future.

This sentence was in an email response to me during a conversation I’ve just completed on a possible new venture. I suggested a radical change, and my friend’s response was that statement. Now that I think of it, it is a powerful statement for any kind of future growth strategy. Any entity with an identity, whether an individual, an organization or a concept or idea, needs roots in it’s own indubitable heritage, to retain the true power of valid forward momentum.

In MBA speak, this means identifiying the essence, the core values, and leveraging those as a differentiation strategy. This also allows two players in the market, who do the same thing, to play collaboratively rather than competitively, as they each have identified their "secret sauce" and understand their strengths and weaknesses in the arena. This, then, allows for complementary services.

Let me take the example of the spurt in the number of "innovation consultants" of all flavours. IMHO, the innovation mindspace, to a great degree, has been captured by IDEO, moreso within the context of the larger design industry landscape. Now, as the media flogs "innovation" as the source of all future revenue and survival in a globally competitive world, it is but natural for others in the same arena to participate in this opportunity. However, I believe that simply tagging on innovation won’t do. It makes more sense to evaluate your offer, your expertise and your background, and find a niche to position your core offering, in such a way, that while it is obvious that were one to require a certain flavor of innovation, if I maybe a little facetious, one would be attracted to your value proposition. But to simply sprinkle "innovate", "innovation", "innovating" etc generously, like hundreds and thousands, on your market facing communication, achieves little in the way true differentiation.

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5 Responses to We’re going from history – we can’t start in the future.

  1. Hans Henrik says:

    Waaaauuu – I agree 🙂 In the early days of Internet everyone tried to move into the “sweetspot”, Management Consultants, Advertising Companies, Hardware/Software-resellers – everyone. Time has shown that just telling a story wasn’t enough. So I agree with you when saying that you have to find your own angle on things – also about Innovation….
    All the best

  2. Ralf Beuker says:

    .. I think it has been the german philosopher Odo Marquard who said: “Zukunft braucht Herkunft”. This made us think in a similar fashion when I’ve worked for a design & brand consultancy some years ago.
    Niti, I order to push your brain even more 😉 I have another challenging quote by Marquard:
    We must have answers,
    otherwise we don’t search.
    There must always be several answers;
    because if we have no answers
    we stop searching.
    But if we have only one answer,
    we think we’ve found the answer,
    & also stop searching.
    Talk to you soon, Ralf.

  3. Hans Henrik says:

    Nice Ralf….
    When eyes first see, they see and see only that….

  4. Niti Bhan says:

    I can see the connection – why you thought of Odo Marquand when you read my writing. Here is something I found that articulates my personal viewpoint.
    If – regarding a holy text – two interpreters, contradicting each other, assert: ‘I am right, my understanding of the text is the truth, and a truth imperative for salvation’ – it may come to a fight. But if they agree instead that the text can be understood in a different way, and that is not enough, in another way, and yet another – they may rather start to negotiate – and who negotiates does not kill. The ‘pluralizing hermeneutics’, unlike the ‘singularizing hermeneutics’, augurs a ‘being towards the text’ in lieu of the ‘being towards murder’. (Odo Marquard)

  5. Niti Bhan says:

    And I’ve found a translation for your original quote that works very well too
    “future needs origin”, thus Odo Marquard

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