Dan Toma: – The best time to invest in innovation is when you actually don’t need it

– Basically you should think of investing in innovation like you invest in health insurance – you don’t buy a policy when you are sick, but when you are healthy, says innovation management consultant, Dan Toma.

Having helped large organizations and businesses, including The World Bank, Deutsche Telekom, Bosch and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for over 10 years on how to become more innovative, Toma has a lot of experience with developing innovation strategies and offering innovation-related coaching.

According to him the most common problem for companies struggling with adjusting to the new paradigm, is that they start innovating their businesses too late.

– Innovation in large companies is regarded as last resort in the face of the new paradigm shift and is thus often times being deployed too late. Executives need to understand that the best time to invest in innovation is when you actually don’t need it. Innovation investment will result in options being created and when the need for change come it will be much easier to deploy the options rather than having to create them on the go.

Become successful by thinking like an astronaut

Toma does not only work with established businesses, but has also translated his business expertise to the classroom teaching experiential courses in entrepreneurship globally, while at the same time helping with startup ecosystem development through the LeanCamp franchise which he co-owns.

At this year´s “Gründermesse”, a conference and exhibition giving entrepreneurs inspiration, guidance and tools to further develop their companies, Toma will be sharing his experiences and give the audience his best tips on how to become a successful entrepreneur, during his talk “Thinking like an astronaut”.

So what can entrepreneurs learn from an astronaut?

– Thinking like an astronaut was a metaphor I created when I was working in Vietnam in 2015-16 in order to explain the startup teams I had in the accelerator I was managing on behalf of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs how they need to think about their business.

For Toma, it all clicked when he was watching the movie “Martian”, he explains. After that, he watched other space-travel movies to see if there were as many lessons for entrepreneurs as it was in the Martian – and there were.

According to him you need to do the following in order to succeed:

  • Identify what’s gonna kill you first/put you out of business first
  • figure out how much runway you still have – this will define what actions you can afford to take.
  • focus – it’s easy to run around like a headless chicken when there are so many things that need to happen
  • have situational awareness – in business like in space travel, things are interconnected – changing something will impact others
  • focus on what you have rather than what you need – basically be able to play within the roam of your given constrains and make the best out of what assets you have now. Often times I see entrepreneurs focusing to much on raising capital to acquire resources, when they are not even utilizing the existing ones.
  • never forget about the customers and their problems

– And most importantly, stay positive and keep humble – remember, you don’t know everything so take everything with an open hear and open mind!

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