5 Innovation Takeaways from Industry Leaders - Courageous Minds Only May 2024 | The Garage Group

5 Innovation Takeaways from Industry Leaders – Courageous Minds Only May 2024

The Garage Group (TGG) brought together the global Courageous Minds Only community once again, on May 16th, 2024. Jason Hauer, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at TGG, engaged attendees in an inspired discussion with battle-tested leaders from Nielsen IQ, PLEZi Nutrition, Instant Brands and EX3 Labs. They discussed how acts of courage can transform your career and how they’re driving disruption in an uncertain world. 

Our Courageous Panelists

Krystal Dawson (Vice President, Nielsen IQ), Anup Shah (Chief Operating Officer, PLEZi Nutrition), Raul Ruiz (SVP Brand Marketing, Instant Brands) and Adam Wisniewski (CEO, EX3 Labs) courageously shared their stories, insights, and tips. TGG is grateful for their’s an1871’s partnership in making the event happen. The Garage Group and Courageous Minds Only is dedicated to connecting courageous leaders and sparking creativity to inspire positive change. We empower corporate leaders to keep their brands relevant in the face of uncertainty. 

New Insights from Another CMO Event

At this Courageous Minds Only event, we focused on how courageous decisions have fueled innovation. Our panelists shared their journeys and lessons related to innovation. Here are a few highlights. Watch the full video to uncover more! 

5 Innovation tips you don’t want to miss from industry leaders: 

  1. Embrace the mentality of testing and explore new ways to learn 
  2. Focus on consumers’ needs  
  3. Create space for big ideas 
  4. Cultivate emotional discipline to see the opportunities 
  5. Enlist the right partners to help 

5 Innovation Takeaways to Remember

Our speakers shared their secrets to successful innovation. They collectively have decades of experience in a variety of industries. Brand leaders like yourself will find their expertise to be helpful

Embrace The Mentality of Testing and Explore New Ways To Learn 

“​​First and foremost is taking a mentality of testing. The ability to test and learn allows you to try new ideas and technologies and then ultimately scale them if they work. They are generally calculated risks.” – Raul Ruiz, (SVP Brand Marketing, Instant Brands) 

Raul stressed the importance of iterative testing and managing risk. The key to staying relevant in a dynamic market: Embrace continuous learning! To succeed, brand leaders must identify their riskiest assumptions and hypotheses. Then, they need to develop a plan to test them. Testing doesn’t have to take a ton of time and resources thanks to newer ways of learning.  

Raul shared his experience with Yogi, a platform that aggregates consumers’ reviews. It uses AI and Natural Language Processing to organize and analyze data. His team used to have to read through hundreds of reviews. Now, Yogi has enabled them to learn almost instantly.  

He increased efficiency because he kept an eye out for optimal methods of learning. Technological advancements expand our capabilities to test and learn. It’s crucial to look out for new efficient ways to test out hypotheses. 

How are you keeping up with new ways of learning? The Garage Group embraces Lean Research and Assumption Based Development to learn quickly. These methods equip brand leaders with iterative, consumer first approaches to do quick turn learning pulses. 

Focus on Consumers’ Needs

“If you are not innovating with the focus on unmet consumer needs, you’re doing what I call innovating for the same, which is not going to succeed. We’ve been around for a number of decades, and we’ve proved that consistently.” – Krystal Dawson (Vice President, NielsenIQ) 

Rooting everything you do in consumers’ needs is easier said than done. Oftentimes, brand leaders can be caught up in the latest trends and what their competitors are doing. They lose sight of something that’s critical: what their consumers need from them. Everything must be done in service of solving YOUR consumers’. Brands fail when they miss connecting consumer insights to their unique value proposition. 

This is why we advocate for using Jobs to be Done theory and Competitive Landscape Assessments. This helps brand leaders not only to identify big consumer jobs, but also to connect them with a brand’s strength. We’ve taken this approach on custom growth strategy and new product innovation sprints with hundreds of Fortune 1000 brands. Remember, don’t just chase jobs. Make sure your brand leans into Reasons to Believe that are important to the consumer and only your brand can deliver. 

How much do you value learning from your consumers? Is your organization making it a priority to continuously stay in touch with their needs and not just rely upon new technology and AI to generalize? We know it’s tough to dedicate the time and dollars when you feel stretched and wonder if consumers will actually tell you something “new.” Keep talking to them! Connect your analytics to their real voice. We love to help! 

Create Space For Big Ideas

“We set aside 10% of our resources for our curiosity budget and they’re meant to be 10% test and learn. Half of them is going to fail. Half of them is going to be ok. But at least there would be one that might work, and you can scale. I’ve funneled through most of my companies by setting aside 10% or 5% to learn against big ideas.” – Anup Shah (Chief Operating Officer, PLEZi Nutrition) 

Most ideas don’t just magically appear. Good ideas are the results of creative discipline and dedication. Operate like Anup’s team! Carve out the time and money to nurture big ideas. It is a team wide commitment and investment to create a space where ideas can be generated and tested. 

Here at TGG, we have a unique process to create and nurture ideas. We triangulate learnings from the consumers, trends and analogs on the market and enlist cross-functional teams to brainstorm. After that, the ideas go through multiple rounds of testing and revision to grow into a big idea and ultimately, a strategic, consumer-first concept. The key to keeping a strong pipeline is to commit to holding space for that innovation to happen. Big ideas magically occur when you build the incubation environment to nurture them. 

How is your organization creating space for ideas? Do you have a discipline in place to invest in your pipeline? 

Cultivate emotional discipline to see the opportunities

I think the inflection points are always around discipline, disciplining your disappointments and not getting too high with the highs and not getting too low on the lows because there’s usually an opportunity right around the corner.” – Adam Wisniewski (CEO, EX3 Labs) 

Innovation is an emotional process. It has ups and downs. Sometimes, the idea that you bet on flopped. Others, unexpected ideas yielded success. Being caught up in the highs and lows can burn leaders out. Adam emphasized that emotional discipline helps him see opportunities more clearly.  

 Innovation isn’t a destination with a good or bad outcome, but a journey with twists and turns. Having emotional discipline can help leaders stay levelheaded and capture opportunities, which arise no matter the outcomes. It takes courage and conviction to manage your feelings. But once mastered, emotional discipline can fuel both the innovation work and the leader. 

What practices are you embracing to manage your emotions? The Garage Group believes in Entrepreneurial Rules of Success. It’s our five-step ethos that combines things like entrepreneurial hustle and iteratively testing hypotheses.  

Enlist the right partners to help

So the best thing you can do for yourself, whether you’re starting a company, whether you’re an individual contributor, whether you’re leading team, whether you’re the CEO, acknowledge that there are other people who know things you don’t know.” – Krystal Dawson (Vice President, NielsenIQ) 

Resources are scarce. Expectations are high. Teams have a set amount of time, budget, and people available to them. You are under pressure to do everything…well! Trying to accomplish too many things solo is common. It’s also nearly impossible to do while staying healthy. That’s why brand leaders must enlist trusted internal and external partners to help. 

A good partner empathizes with the team’s goals. Then, they bring their unique expertise and experience to exceed the team’s expectations. We believe everyone needs an extra pair of hands, a partner. Leaning into partnerships and teamwork can create 1 1 3 synergy, which benefits the innovation process. We have seen it in our 14 years of working side by side with Big Cos and we are proud to be a trusted confidant for corporate leaders. In the end, we love partnering to keep your brand relevant! 

We Love Our CMO Community

We love hosting these events at 1871 and online!!!  We learn something new and make meaningful connections each time.  Most importantly, we increase the courage we need to lead in our turbulent and uncertain world.

Thanks for reading the recap.  Check out the full recording for even more insight from our panelists. Join our global CMO community to receive updates for future events.

Interested in sharing your own bold insights at a CMO event? We’re always looking for panelists. Email us at marketing@thegaragegroup.com.

How Might We Partner?

Need a courageous partner to help you crack your high priority innovation and growth strategy challenges?  

The Garage Group is a battle-tested Lean Innovation and Growth Strategy Firm on a mission to unlock courage in leaders. We help them keep their existing B2B & B2C portfolios relevant and growing in the face of uncertainty. 

Our team has 14 years of compounded learning, rolling up our sleeves alongside corporate leaders at BigCos like Kimberly-Clark and Northwestern Mutual to tackle tough innovation and growth challenges through a series of ongoing Lean Workstreams.

Forward-thinking leaders partner with us to build Jobs to be Done-based brand, portfolio, and category architectures; to lead consumer-first Innovation Pipeline Sprints with rapid-fire infusions of iterative stakeholder learning; and to hack traditional research methods, replacing them with a series of agile Learning Loops to build conviction and support for new ideas.

Send us a note at marketing@thegaragegroup.com to start the conversation!

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