You know the feeling. You’re standing in the supermarket, staring at 101 varieties of granola, frozen with indecision. There’s too much choice! Do you go for the healthy one with dried fruit? Or the brand on offer? What if someone releases an entirely new range tomorrow, and you’re stuck eating your old bag for weeks? You end up leaving the aisle empty-handed.
This is a classic, everyday example of analysis paralysis. Overthinking a situation. Making no progress or action at all.
Right now we’re witnessing this in the world of AI – except the impact of ignoring AI is much deeper than skipping breakfast.
Speed of change and innovation paralysis
We don’t have to point out to you that the world is in the midst of a huge shift, driven by the advancements being made in AI and associated technologies.
Every day, businesses are inundated with new possibilities. Another announcement, another tool, another app update, another way they could be incorporating AI. Consumers are adopting new technology faster than ever – take the exponential growth of ChatGPT users as a case and point.
Possibilities are exciting, of course. But with possibilities come decisions: often, an overwhelming amount. Businesses are grappling with the challenge of working out what to do. Just when they’ve got their heads around it, and decide what to do, another wave of possibilities arrives. Their work feels pointless; their visions can’t be transformed into tangible outcomes.
The result? Businesses are giving up. The current rate of innovation is so fast, they’re opting out. They’re waiting until things ‘settle’.
They’re being struck by innovation paralysis.
Amazon: the bookstore that could
Let’s rewind to the nineties.
The internet was new and shiny. Businesses were aghast: standing looking at this brand new creature, wondering how exactly they could survive the massive shift it signified. Every week some new capability would be marvelled at. Similar to today, businesses were being struck with innovation paralysis. Many did nothing (very few of those still exist today).
Amazon, back then a fledgling online bookstore, did not stand still.
Their simple but powerful idea – an online catalogue with no physical space constraints – could work out how to thrive in this new world order.
We can conclude that action worked out pretty well for them. You’ve probably ordered something from Amazon in the last few weeks.
Why work at overcoming innovation paralysis?
Look, we’re not saying everyone can pretend to be Amazon in the nineties. But we are saying: doing something is probably better than doing nothing.
There are three reasons why this rings true for the businesses of tomorrow:
- AI technologies are not going to disappear tomorrow, next week or in a year’s time. Getting your internal teams onboard with the early outputs of this innovation revolution will equip them to better understand and use the results of the following waves.
- Pretty much everyone is talking about and caring about AI, and that includes your customers, prospects, and shareholders. For them to have belief in your business in this rocky transition period, they need to know you’re on top of what’s happening.
- Now is the time to take action on those company values extolled at the start of each all-team meeting. We bet that list doesn’t feature words like cautious, anti-risk, compromising. Leaders right across your organisation need to be getting on board with rewarding action and progress; not focusing on meeting short-term KPIs. Analyse the situation, discuss it with awareness, then decide and commit resources – and live up to the standards you’ve set yourself.
AI innovation – your DIY guide
It’s all too easy to say “do something!” and leave it there – which is not what we’re about at Vixen Labs.
WEEKLY FOCUS SESSIONS
One way we’re taking action is with a weekly generative AI session, which we discuss in our blog on creativity and AI. The company comes together to work together on trial projects using AI tools. After, we discuss the outcomes, and get clear on what we learned. Critically, there’s an intentional air or openness and ‘no silly mistakes’ in these sessions. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the latest developments in AI, and we’re working hard to ensure those feelings don’t become entrenched.
Here’s an idea for you next all-team get together: ditch the day-long Powerpoint presentations, and try a hackathon instead. Led currently, it’ll feel like a group of friends getting together for a jam session – only, using algorithms instead of guitars! If this feels out of your league (or time resource) fear not. Vixen Labs loves holding events and workshops like hackathons. We can organise it all – and even play the drums, so to speak.
Get everyone together – remote works – to share ideas on one internal problem they feel could be solved if everyone put their minds to it. Hold a voting system, allocate a budget, and have teams rotate on and off for a week on a fun innovation print in which a certain number of AI-driven tools have to be used
Not only will everyone learn a tonne about AI, but you’ll hopefully exit the process having addressed an issue the team cares about. Who knows – you might even hit upon the next big thing for your industry.
Okay, so there’s a time for hackathons and sprints, and there’s a time for genuinely sitting back to do a bit more thinking first.
If your business has identified a promising opportunity, run a discovery process to validate your suspicious and build a plan. This is the opposite of paralysis, even if you’re desperate to see results sooner, because future decisions will be based on facts, not gut feelings.
CHEERING YOU ON
Innovation paralysis might feel like being stuck in quicksand, but with a bit of grit and the right approach, you can break free.
Balance is key. Too much thinking and not enough doing can leave you stranded.
Doing without any strategising will lead to wasted expenditure.
So go on, take a step forward. We’ll be cheering you on.