August 30th, 2022, represents a landmark milestone for The Innovation Garage. Ten years in business. Ten years since stepping out into the unknown and starting something.
In contemplating what to write about for the tenth anniversary, this article is written with a specific intent—sharing what we are learning and answering some FAQs about the journey. Many attendees have been asking these questions in client sessions, large groups, and individual discussions. One of the best ways to provide the answers is to write about them.
In the full long-form reflection, this article also represents a celebration of effort. We share outcomes of the elements in our ideal design and what we continue to learn each day.
Shared later in this article series, you will find a top-ten list that is pressure tested in the real world, even after ten years in business. The Innovation Garage assembled this “top 10” learning list based on thousands of conversations—and hundreds of cups of coffee. Advice from close, trusted colleagues you might not know. As well as wise sages and influencers that you may have heard of at some point. In capturing this insight here, it might be that you have heard it all before. We are hopeful you will pick up some new context and insights that will be helpful.
We share these learnings, backstories, and what we consider as True North Principles. When designing your ideal adventure, use the lessons learned as pin drops to your roadmap of very own Hero’s Journey. Consider this a helpful traveler’s guide for your own experience. If you are looking for encouragement in finally taking that “big leap of Faith” for yourself, use these learnings as fuel.
As we now pass this ten-year “valley of death,” it is valuable to look back for a bit. With a business model understood yet continuously evolving, it’s an excellent time to reflect and capture the immense learnings and experiences from the last ten years.
What elements are critical in designing a business for the long haul?
Playing the long game regarding a time horizon is essential too. What might the next twenty or twenty-five years look like if I do this?
If you spend any time listening to the so-called “business gurus,” they will tell you that there are just a few valleys of death in business—the one-year, two-year, and five-year mark. The statistics say that most companies will fail after three years. 50% of businesses fail after five years, and 66% yield after ten years. The average survival rate of firms with a decade or more of business under their belts is 34.4%. So, maybe about three in ten chances of surviving beyond that. Many statistics indicate that only 25% of enterprises will last for 15 years or more.
So, why on earth would you risk starting something that, in the long run, only one in four businesses (just 25%) will ever see or experience?
You start because you want to see what will happen if you take the leap. The real payback is much more about the experiences you are having and are grateful to have. The reality is that there are multiple valleys of death. It’s your job to do your best, move through the ups and downs, and keep pressing forward. There are many ways the storms can come. It is incumbent on you to be in a position of awareness and not be overly surprised by what might come your way.
Three design elements we try to anchor to each day help us do just that. Specifically, in our design, we have three parts:
Faith, Learning, and Gratitude. Each is an integral component of our ideal design.
This article provides focus on the importance of flexibility as part of an ideal design.
Why is flexibility necessary to drive results?
The pandemic introduced some super interesting nuances and challenges in delivering value to others. If you are on the Faith-based journey, you do your best to work with what you have and try to figure it out with an abundance mindset. In short, the pandemic demanded flexibility on our ideal design. Flexibility will be super important in your ideal design.
Doing this work has put us in super exciting places. We have had the opportunity to see and serve many: small companies, large companies, for-profit, non-profit, government, and several support organizations of the US Military.
Geographic locations support clients, including New York, Cleveland, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Charlotte, New York, Toronto, Florida, Texas, LA, Long Beach, California, Bentonville, Arkansas, and Naval Air Stations on the coasts. Overseas travel has included Brussels, Belgium, many cities in Germany, and several other places in Europe. Sometimes with former colleagues and new relationships who eventually became clients.
Converting our content to a digital-based platform provides a fantastic opportunity to deliver value across the globe during the pandemic. Organizations in multiple regions include broadcasting, biotech, pharma, life sciences, aerospace, and military support organizations. Today’s technology permits live remote sessions with clients in Europe, the United Kingdom, and other regions all across the world.
When you start something, make sure you include the ability to be flexible in your ideal design.
What are some of the results after ten years in business?
There are many unique and interesting bits of data from ten years in business. If you are curious about results, some are tangible, and others are less tangible. Many have come about and are listed as follows;
Some of the tangible results;
- Working with 50+ organizations.
- Working both in person and virtually with team members on six continents.
- Training 1,000+ team members within those organizations.
- 28,325+ minutes of educational video content watched by client teams as part of consulting engagements.
- 1,000+ application assignments commented on and reviewed.
- Driving over 150,000 miles for meetings and client sessions.
- Handing out over 1,000 business cards.
The less tangible, and perhaps more important in the long haul, measures:
- Colleagues are having others reach out to us and ask for coaching support in starting their adventure.
- Getting feedback and reaching out from others who met us, attended a session, and offer unsolicited and positive feedback on their experience with us.
- We see all our client teams progressing and growing in their personal career and team growth journeys.
- Individual contributors have become team leaders.
- Team leaders become directors.
- Directors progress to executive ranks, and some of those individuals go to CXO levels within the client organization.
- Some also move on to do great things elsewhere.
- Many of those leaders provide an unexpected note or email of thanks. Sharing something they learned even after many years have passed since working together.
Most importantly, seeing and appreciating the encouragement and opportunities in life and business manifest with my wife and sons. Each now has an active role as a participant in this journey, taking on meaningful roles as advisors, designers, builders, and content editors.
All are highly trusted contributors to the business.
Most creatives like musicians, entertainers, designers, educators, and yes, consultants, are, in their way, striving to design and provide a great user experience. And by participating in the experience, the designer is hopeful that the user truly learns and gains a meaningful outcome. We strive to do the same each day.
Our mission is to Make Things, Make Things Better, and Teach Others.® We will keep on this path of Faith, Learning, and Gratitude and see where it will take us.
And, as Tom Petty encourages, keep running down a dream.
At The Innovation Garage®
We help organizations grow. Providing education, tools, technology, and expert consulting in change management for strategy, innovation, and supply chain. Guiding leaders from startups to the Global Fortune 500 to intentionally self-disrupt their offerings and organizations. Delivering world-class education, tools, and technology on how to craft business operating systems focused on long-term profitable growth.
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