Martin Kupp is an associate professor for entrepreneurship at ESCP Europe, Paris and a visiting professor at EGP Business School in Portugal and the ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, Germany.
There is no innovation without learning. Martin Kupp’s areas of expertise are strategic innovation and organizational creativity and in this talk, he outlines why startups must engage in the right kind of learning to be innovative.
The ability to learn is the ability to change, Martin says. Plans are useless, but planning is important, he continues. Martin gives the business plan as an example. The business plan itself may be of little use due to the ever-changing market and perennially incomplete information, but that is not to say that planning is not important. It is. Indeed, the facts themselves may be of less value than the ability to accumulate and process facts.
Martin lays out the four key areas where startups can learn in a matrix of customers, competitors, investors and the team; and what and how startups should learn in these contexts. For example, in the case of customers, the startup must concentrate on problems, not preferences. This is not just a matter of semantics, but it makes a clear difference to not only what but how you learn from your customers.
In the case of competitive analysis, Martin contrasts benchmarking and questioning. Figuring out the plans of your competitors requires creative analytical thinking. Where are they going? How can they get there faster? If you benchmark your competitor’s actions instead of figure out their plans, you’re not skating to where the puck is going.
Learning techniques for innovation
In the light of the above, Martin finishes by introducing the key elements for strategic learning.
Bring your perspectives and ask for others: having diverse networks but not having them talk to each other is useless. Learning and innovation thrives in cross-functional teams.
Build the learning experience together: this is when learning happens. The perspectives must be shared and respected by all participants.
Get emotionally engaged: learning is an emotional thing. It is not data, Martin says. Current neuroscience supports this. People remember emotionally engaging stories dramatically better than they remember facts.