My very first experience of the captivating atmosphere watching biathlon was in Ruhpolding in 2000. It’s amazing to be part of the crowd of thousands of screaming and jumping people when the biathletes ski into the stadium to shoot. At that time we lived in Germany, and Magdalena Forsberg crossed the finish line as the winner with our Swedish flag in her hand. That was big.
IFS is a proud sponsor of biathlon. I think the culture and atmosphere in biathlon share feelings similar to those we share with our customers. Today’s business is about expecting the unexpected, being prepared for anything and it isn’t over till it’s over—the feeling that anything can happen until the last shoot is fired. The winner is the one who is the most focused. Period.
Being a successful athlete means learning and benefiting from your mistakes. You need to try new techniques and technologies, and constantly evaluate how small details can be improved. In sports and in the enterprise software business, most new ideas are incremental innovations that only take you forward in small steps. It’s about making change a matter of routine.
How do new innovations appear?
There are probably thousands of books that describe the innovation process, and how individuals and companies can be more innovative. But is there a simple answer? I like to say it with my own words:
Innovations often derive from mistakes. The more innovations you’d like to produce, the more mistakes you need to make. A mistake is not a waste, but the next step to the solution. Mistakes drain you of energy. The only refill available is your passion and courage to continue.
How did this happen—a curved stick?
This season, Ole Einar Björndalen, from Norway, and the Swede, Fredrik Lindström, are skiing with a slightly curved stick. Please watch the clip. It’s in Swedish, but the story is that their new curved stick can be held closer to the body to give less drag, improves thrust, and help them gain 25-40 cm per 10 km. It’s the small things that make the difference.
But what is more interesting his how they came up with this idea. I really don’t know, but my best guess is that someone tried a curved stick by accident. Someone noticed perhaps the difference when they were skiing downhill and used a curved stick and came up with the idea of trying it for cross-country skiing. What’s your best guess? The stick is curved at the top. Why isn’t it curved at the bottom instead? Have they already tried that or haven’t they thought about it yet?
So far, the curved stick is an innovation used only by two innovators. Maybe a few more will start to use it and become early adopters. After a while an early majority will use it and the curved stick will become the new norm. These are the phases any innovation travels—in the world of sport or in the world of business software. The early birds will spot more worms.
At IFS we love to explore new opportunities to test them together with a few customers before they are launched to market. In IFS Labs, for instance, we have some really interesting things cooking at the moment such as The Internet of Things and how you can talk to your business software through your phone. More about this in later posts or contact me for a briefing.
Martin.firstname.lastname@example.org | +46 733 45 32 63