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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Is now the right time to unveil your latest innovation?

The business world demands constant innovation, but when is the right time to unveil your “latest and greatest” ideas?

Is now the right time to unveil your latest innovation?
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Company innovation is an important part of a company’s growth. Without innovation, sales may become stagnant and customers may lose interest in seeing the same products or services offered after a long period of time.

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To ensure your business seems relevant and continues to excite your customers, adding new products or services becomes imperative. But when is the right time to introduce a new product? When should you launch that new marketing campaign? Here, 15 experts from Fast Company Executive Board share their best advice for gauging whether now is the right time.

1. TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD.

The only constant is change. As the world increases in tech intensity, every company in every industry has an opportunity to lead through technology innovation, whether you are an ice cream parlor or manufacturing facility. – Ashleigh Vogstad, Transcends Marketing Ltd

2. EVOLVE OR BE LEFT BEHIND.

The world has changed more in the past 20 years than anyone could have imagined and futurists predict that in two decades, the rate of change will be four times what it is now. Any founder who isn’t obsessed with how their industry will evolve will be in trouble. Values remain the same but methods of delivery are evolving at a rapid pace. Now is the time to unleash something new. – Anna David, Legacy Launch Pad

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3. ASK IF YOUR PRODUCT SOLVES A PROBLEM.

Company innovation is extremely important. Innovation allows companies to keep up with industry trends which are determined by the customers in that industry as they ultimately shape what the future holds and their needs. The perfect time to unleash something new is when you know what you’re launching solves customer pain points. – Michael Fenech, EndGame Network PTY LTD

4. MAKE INNOVATION A CONSTANT PROCESS.

Innovation keeps a company motivated, team members engaged, and stakeholders excited. In the world of digital marketing, company innovation is a necessity, as the world continues to evolve. There is no “right time” for innovation, as it should be a constant process and a carefully curated, ongoing effort. – Josh Perlstein, Response Media

5. INNOVATE WHEN YOUR BUSINESS TRENDS DOWN.

Innovation is important and unstoppable whenever status quo or predominant technologies start diminishing with more investments. The diminishing returns could be in terms of user adoption, company profit, or general societal well-being. Technological innovation also becomes important when there is a new perspective or understanding for any of the prominent fundamental problems in society. – Abhimanu Kumar, CausalFunnel

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6. UNLEASH INNOVATIONS AMID DISRUPTION.

When it comes to innovation, the greatest risk is being too slow to respond. While it may be challenging to unleash new innovations amid disruption, it’s actually a prime time to implement new systems and processes to help you stay organized, adapt, and remain agile. Leaders must pivot from stabilization to acceleration for new investments in growth and transformation, or risk being left behind. – Jeff Wong, Ernst & Young

7. DEVELOP SOMETHING NEW WHILE CUSTOMERS ARE SATISFIED.

Technology, culture, and consumer demands move at a pace that requires a constant and healthy stream of new experiences. Innovation is also an extension of the natural human instinct to explore and invent. The right time for innovation is about the “Optimus Time,” the ideal moment where the product or experience satisfies the cultural appetite. – Alain Sylvain, SYLVAIN

8. FOCUS ON INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL GROWTH.

Innovation fuels growth—therefore, the entire company must be focused on it, both externally and internally. Automating tasks, optimizing workflows, improving processes, and consistently developing new products and services are foundational to every company’s survival. – Chad Engelgau, Acxiom

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9. CREATE INCENTIVE AND CADENCE.

Innovation works best when it’s on a cadence that pulls your best ideas to market faster. Some markets can absorb innovation faster than others so the right cadence varies. But when your innovation group knows that they are expected to launch a major innovation every 12, 18, or 24 months, then they have the urgency and focus they need to drive their programs to “done-done.” – Katherine Radeka, Rapid Learning Cycles Institute

10. IDENTIFY A NEED OR GAP.

Innovation comes from recognizing a need. This means that you should be constantly observing the behavior and trends of your audience so you can identify stress points that need to be alleviated. Other times there isn’t a stress point but a need to identify a gap that can lend itself to the delight of the consumer. There is no definitive right time. It’s a constant process. – Antonio Patric Buchanan, Antonio & Paris

11. HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

By the very nature of our mission and company, we are continuously innovating and seeking out projects that we think will have a positive impact on the world. Our recipe is simple: we have an audacious vision, hire passionate people, and work with clients and partners who are invigorated by the work we do. In this way, we create something bigger than ourselves and pave the way for new ideas to be successful. – Charles Rath, Resilient Solutions 21

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12. SEIZE THE RIGHT MOMENT.

Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization because it’s how we evolve and grow, but what worked yesterday may not work today. The key is to pay close attention to the ever-changing cultural context so you can adapt quickly to new ideas. The world isn’t waiting for your great innovations, it’s up to you to seize the moment and go for it. – Sascha Mayer, Mamava

13. FAVOR PROGRESSION OVER PERFECTION.

The dustbin of history is littered with companies that never listened to their customers. Business is about constantly solving problems and growing. If you are tuned into your customers, you know which iterations need to be made. It is better to release something too early than too late. Be a progressionist, not a perfectionist. – Jarrod Morgan, Meazure Learning

14. LEAD THE WAY, DON’T FOLLOW.

Innovation is what will distinguish your brand from the rest, but reckless innovation won’t lead to success. Recognize the direction the market is turning and make sure you are leading the way rather than following your competitors. If you are introducing a new product, a major revamp, or a new service, take time to adequately publicize the launch so you get the attention you seek. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

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15. INNOVATE AT ALL TIMES.

Innovation is important because employees recognize it’s what keeps an organization relevant and in turn, themselves, gainfully employed. If an organization is not continuously innovating, staff will become uneasy and begin looking. Innovation is just as valuable an engagement and retention tool as anything else. As far as when to innovate, the answer is: always. – Carrie Weaver, Silver Branch Consulting

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