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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Instead of always shifting direction, sometimes the best strategy is to go deeper….

Given I have dedicated my business life to innovation, people (rightly) assume I will be innovating my business. The question I am often asked is, “What are you doing to pivot your business?”

This question implies that I am changing direction. But maybe this is the wrong question.

Lately when people ask me this, I reply, “I’m not going to pivot. I’m going to divot.”

If you are a bad golfer like I am, you will know that a divot is a hole you create in the ground when you swing too low. In essence, you are going deep.

That’s what I am doing with my business. Instead of looking for the next bright shiny object to chase, I am looking how I can leverage my existing business/content more deeply.

Many years ago, I created a tool that helps businesses solve their most difficult problems. I’ve used it in speeches and workshops, but I never fully leveraged it. Therefore, instead of moving on to the next innovation topic, I am creating books, technologies, and other products to go deeper into this one specific area. The divot.

If you are always pivoting and changing direction, you will create inefficiencies in your business.

Instead of asking “what’s next (and new)?” ask “what now?” What can you do now to further leverage your strengths? Do what you do best and go deeper.

If you are known for customer service, focus there. Instead of moving to a new opportunity or area of the business, ask, “How can we go deeper into providing the best customer service?” USAA, the military-focused financial service company does this. Their goal is to serve those who serve the country (aka customer service). As a result, they are always tops in customer service rankings.

Are you a company that has cool and innovative products? Instead of identifying the next hot new product, go deeper on the products you already have. Steve Jobs famously did this when he returned to Apple back in 1997. Instead of identifying more products to create, he simplified the line-up with only four products: iMac, Power Mac, iBook, and PowerBook. This had a transformative impact on the company.

Where you can you go deeper? Why do customers do business with you? Focus your energies there. Trying to be the best at everything means you will be the best at nothing.

To be clear, you should not go deep in an area that risks becoming irrelevant due to advanced technology, shifting buyer behaviors, or new entrants. You need to stay current. Pivot when it is needed, not just because it feels like it is time to change.

Innovation is not always about new and different. Sometimes innovation can be about focus and depth. Mastery and leverage.

This article originally appeared on the Inc. website

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