Reasons to Innovate

A few years ago, the world of sport grew enamored with Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. The Why smacked people in the face because it was at once so obvious and so insightful. Understanding Why we do the things we do is important but getting to Why is tough.

We help clubs craft innovation concepts and cultures. Getting a club to Why is always hard but always rewarding. Sport is a unique beast where one’s Why fails to connect with another’s.

But there are some universal Why’s that we’ve noticed over the past few years of working with some of the best sport innovators in the world. Here they are (and no, this is not exhaustive):

1/ Learn Faster

I once asked Sir Dave Brailsford and (Master) Billy Beane why they so eagerly share the story of their respective success with Marginal Gains at TeamSky and Moneyball at the Oakland Athletics. They both had similar answers. Sharing their story with anyone who would listen invites more smart people into their orbit. Put another way, telling the world their Why, How and What reduces the time it takes to learn. They innovate faster because they have more information to turn into better information.

2/ Meeting Changing Customer (Player/Fan) Needs

Humans are changing. Information at our fingertips and the tyranny of personalization are very real for clubs. Players need more personal coaching then ever before, and fans demand a personal experience no matter where they are – in the stadium, watching at home, or reading on their phone. The core customers of both sides of sport are changing because humans are changing. If clubs fail to get ahead of the curve and change their behavior then we risk losing games and making less money. Neither of which are worth the risk.

3/ Stand Out From Competitors

There are two forms of winning in sport today. You either win a lot on the field or you win in the hall of public opinion. Innovation concepts are good branding and allow you to stand out from the status quo. No matter what you think of the Philadelphia 76ers (The Process), the Oakland A’s (Moneyball), FC Barcelona (Barça Innovation Hub) and Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodgers Accelerator/GSVS), you think they are smart. They’re smart because they’re doing things that stand out. The whole point of sport is to stand out, either by winning or attempting to win in novel ways. Innovation helps you accomplish both.

4/ Attract Talent

Being smart and standing out attracts better talent. Ask the Golden State Warriors if innovation attracts better players. And ask Billy Beane if he gets hundreds of resumes per year from some of the smartest human beings on the planet. Talent attracts talent.

5/ Win More On & Off the Field

The most quietly innovative team in the world is the New England Patriots. The culture of innovation in Foxboro touches the way they play and monetize. Their coaches adapt to the talent they have on their roster better than any other staff in the NFL, and their commercial team uses fan data mined at the Kraft Analytics Group to drive profitability.

Being innovative leads to better speed, better ideas, better human interactions, better standing, and better talent. And all of this leads to – well, being better.

So, the question is not Why you should have an innovation program – the question is Why don’t you?

What is you Why for sport innovation?

Steve Gera