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Entries in innovation (8)


Lessons from LEGO: Think Around the Box and Innovate

David Robertson, Ph.D., professor of practice at the Wharton School, global innovation and IT consultant, and author, provided insights on how to lead innovation across a company in his IHRSA European Congress keynote, “Innovation Management: The LEGO Story.” 

“Whether you are a start-up or a Forbes 500 firm, sustainable innovation can be your key to success,” Robertson said during the Monday, October 17 address. “Radical thinking can put you out of business—innovation doesn’t necessarily need to disrupt or change the game drastically.”

In his Technogym-sponsored presentation, Robertson discussed the practical approach to everyday innovation and how the company’s leaders should guide the process while retaining the focus. According to Robertson, who wrote “Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry,” innovation: 

  • Is a new match between a solution and a need;
  • Adds value from a customer’s perspective;
  • Is sustainable and generates profit. 

Using the case study of LEGO, one of the most successful turnarounds in modern business history, Robertson explained the four rules of low-risk innovation strategies: 

  1. Define your key products. Tighter focus leads to profitable innovation.
  2. Focus on your niche and embrace it. Reduce the world to those customers who matter the most.
  3. Be costumer driven. Your most valued customers will tell you what can be done with the brand.
  4. Do more with less. With the proper direction, challenge your team to come up with new ideas and do things in a better way. 

“Innovation is not a matter of thinking outside the box—high-risk high-reward disruptive innovation—but thinking around the box—multiple low-risk innovations that support a core product” he said. “LEGO tried radical, disruptive innovation, and that experiment almost put it out of business. When they went back to their traditional product, their customers came back, their sales growth returned, and their profits soared.”


Growing the Fitness Industry through Innovation and Technology

If you’re waiting to see how the latest technological innovations will affect the health club industry, just look around—they already have.

“Technology is changing the customer journey and the perception of brands,” says Rasmus Ingerslev, chair of Stockholm Leisure Partners, Repeat, Barry’s Bootcamp Nordic, and the IHRSA board. “The four walls of a health club will no longer be what defines it due to the rapid development within a range of key technologies, such as artificial intelligence.”

Drastic changes such as these may be unsettling, but savvy club owners will look past potential disruptiveness and find opportunity. 

“We can no doubt increase member engagement by using technology in a smart way, which increases relevance of our services and the likeliness that we actually help our members reach their goal of becoming and staying healthier,” Ingerslev says. “From a business perspective, this means increased retention and, thereby, increased lifetime value of a member. Everybody wins.” 

Ingerslev will share more of his strategies during his IHRSA European Congress session, “Growing the Fitness Industry through Innovation and Technology.” The Wednesday, October 19 presentation will help attendees: 

  • Explore why technology will increasingly change the fitness industry.
  • Discover the opportunities and threats from innovation and development in technology.
  • Gain an understanding of which major technology trends will impact the fitness industry.
  • Learn about the trial and error of a technology oriented entrepreneur.
  • Obtain practical advice on how to prepare your business for the future of the industry.  

So, what tips does Ingerslev have for club owners hoping to prepare their business for the future of the industry? 

Join IHRSA! Come to my session in Seville!" he says. "Jokes aside—although there is some truth to both statements—I think you should go through your customer journey very critically and decide where and how you can deliver the most value and consider how technology is relevant in that equation.”

Learn more about the IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20 in Seville, Spain. 


German Fitness Studio Uses Data to Drive Innovation and Membership

To those of us who aren’t mathematically inclined, the prospect of working with data isn’t exactly appealing. But, when done strategically, data collection and analysis will begin to tell a valuable story for health club owners and operators. 

When Mrs. Sporty, a fitness studio chain in Germany, took a hard look at its membership data a few years back they noticed a striking change. 

“The previously homogenous target group of plus-50 women, which had been a niche for decades, changed to a diverse mass market,” says Mrs. Sporty CEO Valerie Bönström. “We understood from the data that we have to change and adapt our product—otherwise our target group would choose something else. The needs of our target group changed and so we did. When you focus on the needs of your customers you will constantly innovate—if you don’t, you die.” 

To adapt to its new target group, Mrs. Sporty transitioned from hydraulic machines to pixformance, which offers a fully individual functional workout for each woman. 

“Exercises are shown on a screen and feedback is given from the machine,” Bönström says. “It allows 100% goal focus.” 

Bönström will share her expert advice in her IHRSA European Congress session, “Innovation by Collecting & Analysing Data to Win Members Long-Term.” Her presentation, held Thursday, October 18, in Seville, Spain, will help attendees:  

  • Determine which data you have and what you will need to obtain.
  • Discover whether you know the patterns of behavior and needs of your customers.
  • Learn how to deliver what they want to have by innovation.
  • Identify controlling numbers to avoid missing when customer needs or behaviors change.
  • Gain insight on why to never stop questioning your business model.  

“An easy example of how to use data in a simple way is, if you know when members change their pattern of how frequently they visit the gym, you can already predict three months ahead when they will potentially cancel,” she says. “So data allows you to act before the member even knows them self that they might cancel. That is proven statistics and really a big win for the fitness industry.” 

Learn more about the IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20 in Seville, Spain. 


Use These 4 Discovery Skills to Become an Innovative Business Leader

Over time, organizations naturally focus on efficiency—delivering on objectives—and start driving out flexibility and, as a result, miss opportunities for innovation, Christopher Bingham, Ph.D., professor of strategy and entrepreneurship for the Kenan-Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said during his IHRSA Institute keynote address on Tuesday. 

“There’s a fundamental tension in organizations between efficiency, on one hand, and flexibility, on the other hand,” he said. “Efficiency is about exploitation, but you also need to explore, otherwise you won’t have a future. You need to be efficient so you can make payroll and grow, but you also need to be flexible and innovate.” 

During his hour-long presentation, the Phillip Kettleman Distinguished Scholar outlined four key discovery skills that he calls “the innovator’s method.” 

Discovery Skill #1: Questioning 

Innovators are apt to ask a lot of questions, which ultimately helps them to understand their target audience’s feelings, emotions, and values. 

“The smartest people I know ask the best questions,” Bingham said. “They don’t always have the answers—they just ask the best questions.” 

Discovery Skill #2: Observing 

Another way to become more innovative is through observation. By being a fly on the wall, innovators are able to get a better grasp on what an experience means to a person. 

“People hire a product or service to fill a need,” Bingham said. “If you understand the need, the innovation is pretty easy. Sometimes we’re so obsessed with competition we forget what our service means for people.” 

Discovery Skill #3: Networking 

You may not immediately connect networking with innovation, but by expanding your connections and finding the “strength in weak ties,” innovation can flourish, Bingham said. 

He suggested that attendees create their own personal board of advisors to help them make important decisions. Like the boards of Google and other innovative companies, your personal board should be made up of a diverse group who can help you see things in a different light. 

Discovery Skill #4: Experimenting 

Keynote attendees participating in an activity that proved the importance of experimenting. “Often, what we’re trying to do is get things into the hands of consumers quickly, but the days of ‘build it and they will come’ are done,” Bingham said. “In entrepreneurship circles people use a minimal viable product to get feedback from consumers. The idea is to just do something that’s bare bones to get some feedback and then iterate your way to success.” 

The IHRSA Institute, Executive Education for Club Professionals, which kicked off Tuesday afternoon, is sponsored by Core Health & Fitness, MINDBODY, NASM, and SPRI.


Innovation: Word or Fact?

I recently heard that, today, “innovation” is one of the most overused words. Really? Frankly, I think that our industry needs true innovation to engage people in exercise and foster positive behavior change—now more than ever!

To better understand the current “state of innovation,” I consulted Fast Company, one of my favorite magazines, which frequently spotlights organizations and individuals that dare to innovate in an intentional, strategically profitable way.

Conveniently, my research led me to several examples that I’m quite familiar with.

Earlier this year, Fast Company published a list of “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Fitness.” Among them were Polar Electro, Inc., Beachbody, Equinox, and EXOS, the corporate parent of MediFit, the firm I work for.

Why were we selected? The magazine said it was “for improving the entire health and fitness industry. EXOS continues to find new ways to help everyone become healthier.” MediFit does so, in part, by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to help people achieve their health and fitness goals—one that encompasses mindset, physical activity, nutrition, and recovery.

Because human beings are complex, multifaceted, and multilayered creatures, we incorporate our understanding of those traits in all that we do.

Looking elsewhere, we find examples such as Airbnb and Uber, innovative organizations that have thoroughly disrupted the hotel and taxi industries, respectively. How did they do so? By identifying real, unmet needs—gaps in the ever-lengthening spectrum of consumer expectations. And, then, by giving customers direct control, using networked platforms, incorporating dynamic pricing, and changing the way service is delivered.

What does all of this have to do with you and your business?

Consider this: Do you say, think, and believe that yours is a truly transformative organization? Or do you simply overuse the word innovation? Is your team structurally aligned to create and implement great new ideas? Are there systems in place to track the actions you take and to assess the results you achieve?

We, as club operators, are faced with an endless series of challenges, both perennial and newborn, having to do with issues such as member and staff acquisition/retention, emerging trends, evolving technology, and “disruptive” new forms of competition.

How can we deal with them efficiently, effectively, successfully?

Likely not by utilizing the same approach we’ve relied on for the past two-and-a-half decades.

It’s time to ask candid questions, tough questions, never-before-thought-of questions.

Only then will we realize true, redemptive innovation.


Innovation is a Professional Passion at Matrix

Jon Alling oversees product innovation at Matrix.Every major fitness equipment manufacturer engages in research and development. The process is critical to improving upon what’s been done before; creating the brand-new and better; meeting club operators’ needs more exactly; and providing their members with an exercise experience that’s more engaging, engrossing, efficient, and effective.

“The best insurance policy for the future of an industry is research,” chemist Sir Harold Hartley noted in the last century, and the observation, if anything, is even truer today.

At Matrix Fitness, the commercial brand of Johnson Health Tech. Co., Ltd., R&D is more than a business necessity. It’s a professional passion.

Like all R&D, Matrix Fitness’ process is a compact of facts and intuition, of established systems and improvisation.

For the complete story, go to CBI magazine online.



Innovation imperative for industry growth

The final keynote of the 2014 IHRSA Institute was Prof. Christopher Bingham’s Entrepreneurship Session on innovation. He stressed the importance of innovation in the health and fitness industry as a way to succeed and not become passé. 

Areas covered in “Capturing New Opportunities for Growth and Profitability” included why innovation is so important and how innovation can add new members, help make fitness a lifestyle, keep staff motivated, and how to deal with competition by using innovation.

Innovation can be simplified in four areas of what he called the Congruence Model – structure, culture, people and tasks – and when done correctly they work together and off the other.

Read on for Bingham's breakdown of his Congruence Model and innovation.


Fast Company announces most innovative fitness companies

Fast Company magazine announced its Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Fitness and there are some companies we all know, while there are also newbies that are making a name for themselves.

At the top of the list is Nike - with FuelBand and sensors in running shoes that "report" on social media - and Zombies, Run, which is part audio book, part video game and part trainer.

Others recognized include Zumba, CrossFit and SoulCycle.

For the complete list, visit Fast Company.