What Does an Innovation Consultant Do?

Mar 1, 2019 9:44:06 AM / by Pivot Factory

The professional responsibilities of an innovation consultant are broad and not always clear cut. In practice, these consultants challenge clients to break away from old habits and provide them with the necessary tools to leverage the power of emerging technologies for the betterment of their business and employees. At the same time, these consultants must be knowledgeable about the many different industries that make up the global economy and the disruptive forces within each.  

If this sounds like a significant amount of responsibility for a single person, you might be onto something. But a consultant with the right makeup and understanding of complex issues can put anyone on the track toward sustained success.

So how do they do it? Innovation consultants hone in on specific ways clients can implement digitization and other technologies to develop realistic goals to ensure positive change happens smoothly, without internal friction, and in a way that puts them in position to leapfrog competitors—or to solidify their already impressive standing in a certain sector.  

Just as consumers are adapting to new technologies and utilizing new devices and services to improve their everyday lives, boardroom executives and leaders of government institutions are considering tangible ways to streamline processes or take major steps toward future growth. Even if a CEO is armed with the highest level of education or boasts considerable resources, it’s often up to innovation consultants to set the client's entire business on the right path.

First, Let’s Talk Innovation

It’s clear that every business can benefit from innovation. This can mean everything from creating an app to infusing technology into something as innocuous as a toothbrush, which Procter & Gamble announced it was doing earlier this year.

Similarly, internet-based companies like Uber, Spotify, and Amazon have completely disrupted their respective industries, forcing their rivals to adjust simply to remain relevant. 

It’s clear that every business can benefit from innovation.

It’s natural to think all this change has occurred overnight. Afterall, the World Wide Web officially launched in 1991, and the first iPhone made its much ballyhooed debut in 2007. Yet much has changed since. 

The aforementioned juggernauts may serve as inspiration for big dreamers thinking they can create the next Facebook or Uber. Truthfully, reaching the pinnacle of an industry is very rare, but that’s not to say companies big and small can’t make significant improvements to ensure sustained success. Those are the type of firms that hire an innovation consultant to help get them over the top.

Step 1: Understanding Growth Opportunities

The starting point for an innovation consultant is identifying new markets and asking  clients, “Where can you go?” The purpose of the question is to understand the client’s level of potential and address the very natural human instinct of doubting their capacity for growth. A successful consultancy would lay the groundwork for this line of thinking for years to come, long after the consultant completed their advisory role. Once that mindset is implanted, it shouldn’t go away.

The next phase is to identify precise goals that will help foster necessary change.

Of course, goals are never set in stone. It’d be detrimental to your company to create these aspirations, do what you can to achieve success, and then completely forget the strategies that worked in your favor. Companies should consistently come up with new goals so they can seamlessly navigate changing economies, avoid disruption, and stay ahead of ever-evolving technologies.

Certainly, it’s difficult for employees to consistently focus on staying one step ahead of everyone else when they have their own projects to take care of. That’s why it’s up to innovation consultants to coach people on how they can maintain such a mindset. At the end of the day, a consultant’s goal is to keep your company up to speed with technology and ahead of the game by providing you with the tools you’ll need to succeed.

The best of these consultants working today view digital transformation as an all encompassing aspect of innovation.

The best of these consultants working today view digital transformation as an all encompassing aspect of innovation.

Creating Internal Change

While an innovation consultant will always be available to provide insights and guidance, change inside a company should happen organically.

If you’re hiring an innovation consultant, there’s a good chance you’re going to be changing the internal structure of your company, which may be the most difficult step of the process. Employees and internal leaders, the CEO included, will have to start looking at it differently than they did before.

The company culture has to undergo a bit of a shift to ensure real transformation is maintained. No one is saying it’ll be easy, but if everyone involved demonstrates the ability to adapt their mindset around a common goal—in this case, complete transformation—than the company’s overall identity should also evolve. If you’re successful, consumers and clients alike will look at you with fresh eyes.  

This inside-out metamorphosis will go a long way to establishing new processes and approaches to ward off possible disruption. It can be tricky, and even awkward when the whole team isn’t on board, so going forward you must ensure the collective group is working toward the same solution. Again, this is where the innovation consultant should align the company’s top leadership and employees to make sure everyone is on the same page and wants to be there.

Tracking Every Step

Laying out an optimistic vision for your organization, establishing short- and long-term goals, and fostering the right type of atmosphere is an integral first step before moving on to the next phase. Once you’re in the thick of executing your plan, you want to track your progress and analyze corresponding metrics to really get the most of your consulting experience.

Although it may seem time-consuming, taking the steps to scrutinize data can easily help identify possible opportunities and reveal potential problem areas. Again, innovation consultants can help put the pieces in place to make this happen.

It’s not uncommon for frustration to sink in when you try new methods and aren’t seeing demonstrable change. That’s why tracking different techniques and how they performed will keep everything in perspective. Being transparent about the steps you’re taking, and whether they’ve paid off, will ensure no one is left in the dark.

Part of the reason many digital transformations fail is the lack of a consistent tracking of metrics. Of course, your innovation consultant would be the person to check that this is happening frequently, which helps to ensure the whole company remains engaged.  

There’s no doubt that innovation can be scary. And that’s part of the reason why many organizations fall back while others grab hold of the opportunity to completely transform and better position themselves for the future. The most important aspect of any partnership is to be open about your concerns, and to trust that the innovation consultant has your best interest at heart.

If you’re looking for an innovation consultant to get your company where it needs to go, Pivot Factory is an advisory services firm that focuses on the trends of disruption, and how companies can react through innovation. Contact Pivot Factory today.