The top reasons why hiring an innovation consulting firm is a stellar investment for any business
We all know that it helps to have an outside perspective, both in our personal and professional lives. We call a trusted friend to tell them what’s going on because they help us see things in a fresh light. The same is true in business. Often we need an outside opinion to help us take a step back, look at our business challenge from a new angle and provide valuable insight.
That’s where innovation strategy consulting comes in. An innovation consultant is an advisor who can provide new tools and methods for tackling your problem. If you’re stuck in a project, need to rethink an existing one, or are kicking off an initiative that has to go well, consider an innovation consulting firm.
What is innovation strategy consulting?
Companies like ours, Voltage Control, offer advice, guidance, training and consulting to companies of all sizes and across verticals. Whether you are a brand new startup or a seasoned, large organization, you can benefit from innovation strategy consulting. First, innovation consulting firms will work with you to identify the exact problem you need to solve. These will often be larger, cross-functional challenges. For example, your problem might be: we need a shared vision for our end-to-end customer experience. Or, we need to address a specific customer pain point and align our mobile strategy accordingly (which is what we helped Adobe with).
An innovation consulting firm can help you hone in on the right questions to ask for your specific challenge.
An innovation consulting firm can help you hone in on the right questions to ask for your specific challenge. They often bring a blend of expertise from everything from enterprise design thinking and human-centered design to product design. They can work with you to think of novel ideas and approaches you haven’t considered before and make a strategic plan for executing on your new strategy.
“The consultant also has a professional responsibility to ask whether the problem as posed is what most needs solving. Very often the client needs help most in defining the real issue…” — Arthur N. Turner, “Consulting Is More Than Giving Advice,” HBR, 1982.
Here are the top six benefits of innovation strategy consulting:
Break Old Habits
One of the first benefits of innovation strategy consulting is that it helps you shake up your typical way of doing things. Most companies have ingrained habits. Maybe it’s the way you hold meetings, how you present to the group, or how projects get funded and designed. Some of these patterns exist for a reason; others are leftover, legacy ways of working that don’t serve a purpose. The reasons for doing these things are often referred to as simply “just the way things have always been done.”
An innovation consulting firm comes in and helps you look at what you should (or could) be doing better rather than how it’s always been done. Their outsider’s perspective means you’re less inclined to follow the well-worn paths of your organization and challenge the status quo.
Wisdom from Outside Industries
Another benefit of innovation consulting is that your innovation consulting firm likely comes with a plethora of expertise in many industries and types of companies. Let’s say you’re in the financial technology business. Hopefully, your innovation consulting firm has some knowledge of your industry, but they will also bring expertise from adjacent or even unrelated sectors and fields. This is a good thing. You want outside inspiration if you’re going to make something innovative.
Because consultants usually work with companies of different sizes and in different markets, they can bring a diversity of knowledge to the table. Who knows, maybe your fintech company can learn something breakthrough from the food delivery startup your innovation consulting firm just worked with.
Focus Your Time
Typically, you’ll work with your innovation consulting firm through semi-formal meetings or workshops. This dedicated time to focus on critical business challenges is invaluable. That’s because many of us are overscheduled and incredibly busy trying to get our “day job” done. We don’t have time to squeeze innovation work into the tiny cracks of free space in our 9 to 5. But, we all want it to happen.
When you bring on an innovation consulting firm, you give yourself freedom and time. Now, you can focus on a problem you’ve meant to tackle but haven’t been able to. (For example, check out this case study about the food delivery company Favor and how they used a Design Sprint to focus their attention on a critical business need). Innovation consulting firms will usually bring in an expert facilitator to help guide meetings and conversations. A facilitator is someone who plans, designs, and leads a key group meeting or event and can help when dealing with larger topics. They offer a non-biased opinion and take care of logistics while making sure everyone stays on track.
While you might be overwhelmed at the prospect of setting aside a whole day or week for innovation exercises or a Design Sprint when you’re busy, the results are worth it. Innovation consulting firms help you take the time to work on big problems in a collaborative way with your colleagues. With their help, you can shift from thinking about the day-to-day to working on game-changing innovation initiatives. Innovation consulting firms help you accelerate, disrupt and sustain innovation within your team and organization.
Innovation consulting firms help you take the time to work on big problems in a collaborative way with your colleagues.
Articulate Your Vision
In addition to being too busy, it’s hard for some companies to articulate their innovation strategy or to shape a compelling story for where they want to go. This is another benefit of innovation consulting firms. Through your engagement with your innovation consultancy, you will come up with a north star. Your north star articulates your vision for your product, feature, or experience.
Typically, your innovation consulting firm delivers a document that summarizes where you want to go and why. They might even help you create a prototype of your ideal, future experience. A good innovation consulting firm will articulate what you accomplished through a shareable document or prototype that will help you rally your team or organization, and get things done.
Innovation consulting firms are often very connected and have an extensive network of people in the business, tech and creative communities. So, if you need to engage with new people and companies to execute on your innovative vision, your innovation consulting firm might be able to help. For example, if you want to hire a team of developers or find a company to help you with brand identity, your innovation consulting firm probably knows a plethora of talented, trusted candidates. They can help connect you to the people and companies you might not have access to so that you can build your product or experience.
Learn Through Doing
One of the last benefits of hiring an innovation consulting firm is that you and your team will learn new ways of working through the process. Today, many companies have their teams do some design thinking training but don’t always show them how to put it into practice. Watching your innovation consulting firm at work is a way to see how design thinking happens in practice.
Your innovation consulting firm will walk you through their tried-and-true methods and activities. These may include innovation training strategies or Liberating Structures. If you pay attention and take a few notes, you can leverage these tools, resources and processes on your own the next time. When your team sees an expert innovation consultant in action, they’ll learn the methods through osmosis. They’ll be able to try the techniques on their own down the road when they want to spark innovative thinking, and ultimately drive a culture of innovation.
Need Innovation Consulting?
Companies are complex with their own unique set of structures and challenges. That’s why we build and curate custom workshops to find solutions based on your team’s exact needs. Voltage Control’s experts will guide you through your choice of experiential, interactive learning workshops, and coaching sessions where individuals and teams learn and practice how to successfully apply the best of today’s innovation methodologies and facilitation techniques to any business challenge. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more about innovation training, design sprints, or design thinking facilitation.