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This week’s focus: How predictable is your market? How far can you see ahead with certainty? 3 years? 10 years? 20 years? In most markets, things are becoming more turbulent and less predictable. Given the scale and pace of economic, digital, competitive and demographic changes many of my clients find it difficult to really think beyond the end of the next year or two. That is the rock. The hard place is the fact that the only secure route to sustainable growth is innovation.

But how do you build the confidence to innovate in unpredictable markets?

It is easy to become blinded by the scale of change and the level of uncertainty, and do nothing, or to try and respond to every change in your market. But there is another way. Amazon, for instance, has focused its innovation on just three factors that, 10 years ago, management decided would remain important whatever else happened in their market. Amazon’s three innovation pillars are lower prices, greater choice and faster delivery.

What are the top three customer needs in your market that you believe will remain relevant whatever else happens? And how would your approach to innovation be different if you were to focus all your efforts on meeting them?

Off The Record: Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack

I went out for a ride and I never went back

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing

I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

I love the lyrics to this track – listen here – they’re like the opening lines of a John Updike novel! Unfortunately, by trying to respond to every little change in your market, companies can end up “like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing” – which is why I chose this song.

© Stuart Cross 2015. All rights reserved.