Hannah Gill: balancing the benefits and risks of innovation

'If at first you don't succeed, try and try again' is a popular saying you've all heard. But, according to Hannah Gill, it's also a good motto to live by. In this edition's column, Hannah explores why innovation is essential to real estate, and how you can embrace the failures that come with doing something different and turn them into lessons.

One of my favourite things about our industry is the rapid rate of change and the ability to innovate and learn. 

The thing with innovation, though, is that it can be risky.

Sure, you can mitigate risk by running through various scenarios, possible outcomes and activities like a SWOT or PESTEL analysis, but true innovation and change often take you into uncharted waters. 

This means you don’t always know what the outcome might be, and things can go wrong.

But outside your comfort zone is where the true magic happens, and the future success of our industry relies on individuals, teams and agencies who are prepared to try new things.

I would go so far as to say failed innovations aren’t failures at all.

They’re an opportunity to learn, refine and try again.

Here are my top five tips to consider when pushing the boundaries and trying new things.

Test small before going big

Especially if you’re working on a client or public-facing innovation, roll it out incrementally.

There’s nothing worse than introducing new comm’s, technology or services to a mass audience, only to have things go horribly wrong. 

Better yet, if you have a sample group of trusted clients, test the innovation on them first and be transparent about it.

Tell them you’re trying something new and ask for their feedback.

From there, you can refine and improve your project and expand the rollout strategy.

Ensure your innovation benefits your client

We’re in an industry that serves others, so if you’re trying something new, be clear on why you’re doing it.

You should be looking for ways to streamline, refine, automate or improve your processes, communication and services to benefit your team and clients. 

Time savings or technology implementation benefiting your team should be done with a view to providing a better client experience. 

Start with the end in mind

Dream big – what would you do if you had unlimited resources, money and time?

What would your business look like if you took this lens to every process, touchpoint and strategy?

How would you grow, what services you would offer, and how would it benefit your team and clients?

If you can start with the end in mind, the process to get there becomes clearer.

First to market is a competitive advantage

But beware – any head start will be short-lived, as others will try to copy and replicate whatever you are doing well.

Take it as a compliment and leverage your head start as much as possible!

Don’t be disheartened

Not every innovation will take off, which can be disappointing when you put time, energy and passion into an idea.

But don’t view that as a failure.

Reflect on what elements worked or were well received.

Explore what didn’t work and why, and then consider how those ideas could be rejigged and adjusted. Then try again.

Remember, with the right attitude, we never lose – we either win, or we learn (or both!), and either of those outcomes is a good place to be.

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Hannah Gill

Hannah Gill is the Director of The Property Collective, REIACT President and one half of Gill & Hooper