Unlocking Value

by Michael Graber

Unlocking ValuePitney Bowes’ Innovation Architect on Market-Centered & Client-Focused Innovations

Why do innovations end up in a “black hole?” In this enthralling presentation, Unlocking Value, Jeff Pierce states that the hubris of Market Leaders keeps them from innovating, warning. Pierce serves as the Innovation Architect of Pitney Bowes’ Corporate Innovation Program. He’s on a mission to change how the company sees itself.

Pierce’s objective: change the way they do business by looking outside in, rather than inside out. Reorienting the company to look from the eyes of the market is the mission. Being clear by being market centered. Knowing what markets they want to be in and those they don’t is the focus of the strategy.
Here’s the painful challenge: how can the company stay fresh with radical changes in mail and documentation? There is a history of innovations at Pitney Bowes, but the technologies have hit almost a disruptive light speed. So, what’s next?

To try and stay relevant, Pitney Bowes bought more than 100 companies in an acquisition binge. The results did not produce focus and real value, as there was not an innovation mission within the culture. As a result, the “board woke up.” Two years ago they hired someone to organize, integrate, source talent, and allocate capital. Most important, they decide to be client-centric, to “hug the customer.” Primary research is the key that unlocks the value of an innovation effort.

Leadership was promoted and imported, because “innovation is about people.” Even senior leaders immersed themselves in their client’s businesses to better understand the context from which they will be solving problems. They did the field work themselves.

As part of the transformation to becoming an innovation company, Pitney Bowes is returning to its roots. Listening to the market makes the change possible.

Here is what has been learned: Focus on market. Understand it deeply. Get to know the experiences your customers have, then, and only then can you begin to win in the market.
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Michael Graber is the cofounder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis.

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