Emma Raducanu’s incredible victory in the US Open is the sporting achievement of the year. She is the only person to win a Grand Slam after coming through the pre-tournament qualifying rounds and she never lost a set in the entire competition.

Ahead of the final, Raducanu was asked about how she would handle the stress and the nerves. “I’m not nervous, I’m having fun,” she explained. “I’m just a qualifier so I have nothing to lose.”

That mindset of ‘nothing to lose’ helped Raducanu to play without fear and to go for the big shots, rather than holding back.

But what happens when Raducanu feels that she has something to lose? She’s now a Grand Slam champion and other players will be gunning for her. How will that affect her on-court tactics and playing style?

The period after an organisation’s initial success is often its most parlous. Once the rate of growth in sales and profits starts to slow, management must decide how much effort they take in simply maintaining their existing success and how much they focus on innovating and driving the next phase of growth.

Organisations such as Zoom (video conferencing), Peloton (home fitness) and Square (digital and card payments) have all prospered through the pandemic, for example. But which of them, if any, will be able to maintain their levels of innovation and growth in the coming years?

Peloton is already under pressure. As fitness fanatics return to gyms and new rivals enter Peloton’s space, the company’s sales growth has slowed significantly and it has been forced to reduce the price of its bike. Like Raducanu, Peloton is now a target with something to lose, but if the company’s leaders focus excessively on ‘not losing’ they risk destroying the innovative moves that has driven its success to date.

It’s a fine balance between securing current performance and driving new, future growth. But, like Emma Raducanu, your organisation’s success is dependent on creating a feeling of ‘nothing to lose’ and being willing to hit the big shots and to take the prudent risks that are vital to its future growth.

Off The Record: Stand by Me by Ben E King

When the night has come and the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we’ll see

No, I won’t be afraid

Oh, I won’t be afraid

Just as long as you stand

Stand by me

Getting Your Innovation Strategy Right

Business leaders are constantly exhorted to innovate. But what kind of innovation should managers pursue? The Innovation Strategy Matrix helps you to answer that question and get your innovation strategy right.

Stuart Cross 2021. All rights reserved.