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The Path Towards Lasting Innovation: An Uber Case Study

After months of debate, failed social media campaigning and multiple strikes by a seemingly outdated competitor, Uber is now set to become a lasting innovation in the transport market with steps being made by the NSW government to legalise the service.

The push by consumers and indeed the taxi drivers themselves for drastic reform to the industry has resulted in a backflip, from many calling for the complete ban of the ride-sharing service to a move towards integration and equalisation of the marketplace. New laws reportedly set to be announced next month will require Uber drivers to pay for a licence for the first time, while taxi owners will be compensated for losing control of a previously competitor free market.

Whether you agree with the move to legalise or not, one thing is fairly overwhelmingly evident: Uber’s innovative approach has overcome a previously single service dominated market and has affected permanent change. How did they do it? Many differing opinions about the subject have been voiced, but ultimately Uber’s success comes down to their innovative utilisation of people power, both to drive their own growth and to respond to their critics.

What can we individually take away from this larger instance of persistence in a very resistant market? A few observations have been made to get you thinking about how investing time and thinking into innovation can assist in overcoming old thinking patterns and creating new opportunities.

  • Creating an environment conducive to open innovation does not and cannot happen overnight

It takes time and persistence to enact change at any level, whether it be individual, organisational or cultural. Innovation can sometimes involve an entire change of direction or set of priorities, so try to involve as many people as you can in a project or in a potential change of direction. The more support you have for your idea in your team or in your industry the quicker you will gather momentum towards lasting change.

  • You won’t always get a positive first response to your ideas

It is evident from Uber’s market upheaval that the road to innovation and lasting change is not one that will always be welcomed. In fact, change can often be met with negativity, rebuke and rejection. Persistence and repetitive contact with the idea is key.

  • Introduce the ‘new’ with pieces of the recognisable

You’ve brainstormed, planned and presented, yet your audience is still not convinced. It could be a case of too much, too different, too quickly. By relating your new idea or process to something that is already in place but perhaps in need of fine-tuning you are more likely to have more receptive responses to your left of centre thinking.

  • Measure the right points of success

It is not always easy to measure if a new product, process or approach is taking effect. By setting a clear set of benchmarks early and sticking to these throughout the entire innovation process from inception to integration a more holistic measure of success can be determined. If your aim is to increase market share, make that your primary measuring point.

  • Strive for visibility and transparency

If you receive the green light for your project or new process you want it to go as well as possible. However, it is likely that challenges and pitfalls will unveil themselves along the way, particularly in the nascent stages. This is a natural step toward refinement and streamlining. Resist the urge to cover your missteps or misevaluations. Instead, empower those behind you as well to step up and recommend how better decision-making could be made around your idea.