An innovator’s perspective on the Trumpocalypse

In the wake of the recent US election, innovators from all horizons should make sure to take away a thing or two about innovation.

trumpzilla - innovation copilotsIt’s way too soon or too late to start to be wise about the Trumpocalypse. Even if 2005 European referendum in France and Brexit were no weak signals, but very much loud and clear bullhorns thank you. Well, anyway. My line of work is not in politics or sociological comments, so I’ll leave it at that. No, the thing specifically, I relentlessly want to hammer down again is about innovation.

Innovation is about changing the socio-economic status quo.

Everything else is just trying to be too smart for the own good of the business we’re running as innovators. If you want a resounding demonstration that ‘smart’ doesn’t cut it, I believe you just got served.

Changing social order or a market is not about you asking for permission. Asking for permission is running polls, focus groups, A/B testing, iterating minimum viable products, and all these ‘lean,’ ‘agile’ or ‘customer-centric’ processes. They might quench your insecurity or the doubts of your investors, but they are anything but a leverage to change the bloody status quo.

More than anything else you’re taking comfort in what pundits will tell you about the market you want to change. How can you do that? Do you believe that there is a consensual approach to innovation? A rational five-steps process that you copy and paste from the latest Harvard Business Review or BCG keynote?

This “move fast and break things” thing? You’re not doing it.

I know that past the tenuous irritation that you’ll have by reading this, you can probably only agree with me. Because it’s THAT easy to understand. Whenever you take two minutes to pause and think about innovation, you get it. You don’t need coaches, mentors or consultants to drive that point again and again.

That kind of innovation which will change a market (any market) is not sparked by reasoning and being smart. It’s a compulsion, an unease that you feel on a daily basis because you have a smartphone and can not find a taxi in a capital city at peak hour, because we still have banks only open from 9 to 5 and closed on weekends, because your car destroys 20% of your annual buying power, or whatever is that you don’t accept anymore while it is business as usual for the rest of the world.

This drive does not come from market research. It won’t help you win your regional innovation beauty contest. Recognition will come only after you win and did change the everyone’s opinion of the market. As innovators, it is our duty to understand the deep mechanic of how radical (and sometimes brutal) change occurs at large scale.

And if anything, Trump’s election is one of this turn-around event.

It’s been a cocktail of grueling fights, borderline psychopathic determination, and oh-so-many rules broken, met with self-righteous blindness of opinion leaders and general utter disbelief. You might deeply despise what just happen (I know I do), but if you’re remotely serious about innovating anything, there is a responsibility to learn from that and use it to bring some good in a market somewhere.

Or you can just apply for a grant and get a pat on the shoulder, your choice.

But times have definitely changed and playing nice won’t really cut it anymore. I just thought you should have the memo.

Author: Philippe

Philippe has been training 200-300 startups a year since 2007, consulted for dozens of multinationals on rupture innovation or corporate incubation, and was directly involved in more than 150 startups building their market fit and scaling up their business. He also teaches business model innovation in key MBA programs whether they are in Paris or Shanghai. And since 2017, Philippe is now living in Amsterdam, one of the best European business hub around.