[callout]Read the Fast Company articleÂ about how Starbucks is succeeding with what they call “Risky Innovation” [/callout] From Brotman, “We didn’t have the luxury to say anything other than, ‘We think we got this right, so let’s see what happens.’ There are times when we just completely don’t know how things are going to work.” Some of the most innovative and successful companies take calculated risks. Â We should too. Â There are several projects the team I led worked on that had the potential to be transformational to the Free Methodist denomination. The challenge with innovation sometimes winds up being a combination of decisions. Â One key is to not be afraid to fail.
You can’t move forward and be a leader and an innovator if you’re only worried about the downside. Adam Brotman, Starbucks Chief Digital Officer
Four years ago I helped lead the denomination through a complete rebranding in print and online. We migrated over thirty sites which were on their own proprietary content management systems (and some old school static HTML pages) and migrated it all to a WordPress network with multi sites. As we thought through how to get content to mobile devices, native apps were key – Â in 2010. Tablets werenâ€™t yet gaining traction so apps were critical in distributing content outside a browser. Not too long after this, responsive design began to become more mainstream. With the birth of a slew of different platforms and device screens, innovation began to move away from native apps to responsive design. Since then, the team has been quietly engineering the content on the web platform and should be releasing a responsive version soon. The apps will eventually be put out to pasture to move the audience to one ubiquitous platform. At the time we couldn’t wait for responsive. Innovation changes. We have to change with it. From that season, I learned three key principles for innovation:
We knew we needed to migrate things to one CMS. We did the research on all available and decided on WordPress. As we looked at mobile and tablet apps, we talked to different people about building custom apps, using app ecosystems/CMS products, or not using apps at all. We created a matrix and lined it up with our budgets. We then took market research on the growth of mobile to propose investment in mobile. Everything we did in building this platform was done with a few trusted team members and industry leaders outside. We did our research. Then we made our play. Doing diligence enabled us to feel confident about the direction we were moving a denomination and prepare for the hard road ahead.