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A mistake that ambitious companies often make is subscribing to the “move fast and break things” mentality for the sake of being first to market.

In an effort for business innovation, these companies not only lose a ton of time, money, and resources fixing mistakes, but they also run the risk of losing valuable team members from burnout in the process. But, the greatest cost of moving too fast and building a mediocre product or service is the loss of customer confidence and ultimately, sales.

Burnout costs big bucks.

It is estimated that employee burnout is responsible for up to 50% of the annual workforce turnover. To put this into dollars and figures, employee turnover can cost a company up to 33%of the worker’s annual salary. And this goes without saying, but getting it right with the customer the first time is of utmost importance. Brand loyalty is a rare and precious thing these days considering the number of options consumers have to choose from. In fact, 32% of customers would stop doing business with a brand that they loved after just one bad experience. Fourty-eight percent of customers that have a negative experience will tell on average 10 or more people about it—that’s a loss of 10+ potential customers because of one person.

Data chart: Likelihood of taking or searching for a different job due to burnout.

So how should a company go about moving slower to avoid breaking fewer things along the way?

By investing more time upfront conducting thorough consumer research to ensure business innovation is intentional and driven by consumer feedback every step of the way.

Data chart: When do consumers stop interacting with a brand they love?

End-user experience is built by a culture of business innovation.

Many companies are unaware that their culture manifests itself in the end-user experience. Culture is interwoven through many decisions and strategies within a brand.

What does culture influence?

  • Innovation—It can either encourage or impede it.
  • Business focus—What a company focuses on and how it reacts to failure.
  • Engagement—How a company relates and engages with its target market.

It’s imperative that the entire organization is aligned and operating on the same page for things to move forward smoothly through to the final end product. Leaders need to emphasize and prioritize market feedback in business innovation so that every department within the organization keeps the customer at top of mind throughout the process. Basing innovation on customer feedback requires a team that is flexible to other thoughts and opinions, open to possibilities, resilient to failure, and good at problem-solving. Additionally, teams that come up with the best innovative solutions tend to be more diverse. From the diversity of perspectives and experiences come better ideas for products that solve problems that a more homogenous team wouldn’t have given thought to.

Focus on customer needs.

Let’s get this straight, the market dictates the product not the other way around. Sorry but, no matter how excited you are about your idea for a line of motorized Beanie Babies, the market doesn’t need more pellet-stuffed plushies. To retrofit a product into the marketplace and expect it to succeed is a fool’s gamble. Instead, companies should be innovating to solve market problems for their target audience.

The longevity of a brand lies in its relationship with its customers.

The mindset of listening to the customer has to start from the top down. This message needs to be clearly communicated by leadership across the board—function dictates form and innovation needs to be driven by market feedback. Understanding what the market wants and needs allows companies to focus on creating a product or service that is strong out of the gate with a chance to compete, if not outperform, a mediocre product that was first to market.

How to move slow, to go fast.

Aggressively fast decision-making patterns, valuing speed over quality, and putting more emphasis on the number of features or services over quality are all behaviors of a company that is moving too fast for its own good. We’ve witnessed highly successful companies focused on growth collapse because they failed to take the time to build out a scalable model. Crumbs Bake Shop was once listed as one of Inc’s fastest-growing companies at the height of America’s cupcake obsession. The bakery chain expanded to many cities across the U.S. with multiple stores in each but the growth was not sustainable. The high costs of maintaining physical locations paired with the decline in cupcake popularity, and ultimately sales, led to the company’s demise.

Slow and steady wins the race towards business innovation.

The main driver for business innovation is profit. But, moving too fast can cause costly pitfalls. Moving slow to go fast is a better long-term strategy—a wise tortoise once said that. And moving slow doesn’t mean you’re not making moves and hustling, you’re just now moving with intention. How should companies move forward at a slow and steady pace in order to gain momentum?

  • Awareness—Recognize that the end-user experience starts with the company’s internal culture. Companies should be innovating with the customer at top of mind and not pushing products that they think the market needs. Put in the time to do thorough market research before committing any time to production.
  • Evaluate—Companies need to take time to understand their blind spots and work to implement processes that correct those disconnects. A broken or half-functioning system, no matter how quickly it’s moving, is never as effective as a fully functioning system that is moving at a steady pace.
  • Iterate—Innovation or achieving greatness is not evidenced by a sudden breakthrough, rather through a steady march forward. Take the time to iterate on your product with guidance from market testing before releasing it to the masses because first impressions matter. You only have one shot to make a good first impression, and it only takes one bad experience to lose customer confidence.

The now-defunct Facebook (now Meta) motto of “move fast and break things,” has left more things broken than built, including Meta itself which recently got hit with its first major lawsuit for violating federal securities laws. They moved fast, and it turns out that no matter how big a brand’s budget may be, it cannot afford to cut corners. The fact is, the world we live in requires brands to be experienced, products to be helpful, and organizations to be responsible.

Relationships are key to business innovation.

There’s no indication that these expectations are going to slow down or change. Sure we’ve seen companies move fast, break barriers, and move ahead of the competition, but it came with a price. These brands faced great risks by doing so and oftentimes big losses along the way. The longevity of a brand lies in its relationship with its customers. Moving fast leads to broken processes and mediocre end results which ultimately creates a poor customer experience. Brands need to prioritize customer experience which requires doing things right the first time around. Establish trust with customers by producing a consistently positive end-user experience, take accountability when things don’t turn out for the best, and put in the work to win them back.

Curious how you can move slow to go fast and gain a competitive edge? Let’s chat.

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