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Soft is hard

Stories matter because they are the bridge to the future, they galvanize a Team and, as McKinsey points out, stories actually help many innovations breakthrough.


Indeed, storytelling has always been important in business and in today’s environment, with executive and investor attention stretched, the softer stuff is ever more important for getting ideas noticed.


Often tough, a company’s innovation story isn’t sufficiently well articulated. It largely goes unsaid with just a few leaders hearing the tune in their heads (and not always the same tune!).


What’s your innovation story? What does the future look like for your business?

The mindset – made up of assumptions, habits, and emotions – is of paramount importance to innovation success yet is rarely looked into. Take for example the often heard of desire to create breakthrough innovation.

Research agency System1 has analysed the results of 10,000+ concept tests run around the globe. It turns out that the ideas that perform best are those that feel familiar, with a hint of surprise: a car needs to look like a car but be just new enough to surprise. Venture beyond that and you’ll only appeal to a niche market.  

The reason at play here is that the human brain looks for patterns that feel familiar. It likes that. And so the formula for success is more 80% familiar / 20% new than the more media-friendly reverse.

There’s also our natural tendency to look for solutions before understanding the problem. Love the problem, not the solution is what we often say.

What’s your Team’s innovation mindset? Is it innovation-ready?

The practice looks at how innovation actually happens in day-to-day reality.


The practice is of course strongly impacted by the story and the mindset. It is also shaped by the type of method or process that’s been chosen. But whatever that is – agile, lean, design-led etc. – it’s the practice and all the ‘soft’ elements involved that actually matter.

How does innovation actually work in your business?

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