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Championship at Mayakoba
4 minute read

A Guiding Principle for Sustaining Innovation and Digital Growth

Transformation isn’t always about going digital for digital’s sake. It’s about creating an outcome and experience. Callaway Golf Company's Erik Anderson discusses how he approaches innovation.

Innovation is key to maximizing the long-term potential of any business. Without innovation, businesses leave themselves vulnerable to disruption and risk viability altogether. 

So, it’s no surprise that most organizational leaders spend significant time thinking about how their teams can sustain innovation and develop a culture of innovative thinking. This is true of any company looking to grow — from the most buttoned-up of corporations to fun and entertaining companies. 

Consider Topgolf, which itself has undergone its own remarkable transformation.  

Erik Anderson, who led Topgolf as executive chairman and CEO and is now executive vice chairman of Callaway Golf Company, spoke at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba about how he utilizes a rather straightforward — albeit hard to execute — approach to sustaining innovation.

“I look at things and ask if they are inevitable and are they enduring,” he said during a business panel during the tournament. “So every technology decision that I'm involved with or strategy decision I'm involved with, I tend ask myself two questions: Is it inevitable? And do I think it’s enduring?” 

When Anderson first took over Topgolf in 2011, he started applying this methodology to great results.  

“We saw screens as inevitable,” he said. “The big picture around Topgolf was how could we be the dominant player or control golf as an experience across all screens. 

Soon thereafter, Anderson and his team realized the innovative and welcoming experience Topgolf was creating across screens was forming a community of engaged users. Community — the act of being together and sharing an experience — he said, was enduring and not something that could be easily or entirely replaced with inevitable digital tools. 

“It’s connecting and creating moments that matter for everyone,” he said. “Golf is an elite sport — or had been. What was inspiring to me and to our company was we were able to bring golf at the highest level everywhere for everybody... When you’re driving that sort of diversity and access and fun around golf, you’r really making a difference. It’s true inclusion.” 

What can businesses take away from Anderson’s strategy?  

Beyond the simple approach of thinking in terms of inevitable and enduring, organizations can understand that transformation isn’t always about going digital for digital’s sake. It’s about creating an outcome.  

Transformational undertakings, as aptly described by a recent article published by McKinsey (June 2021), are about creating value. In the case of Topgolf, Anderson and his team leveraged something inevitable (the proliferation of screens) to create something enduring (great experiences that create value). 

The question then becomes, how can you do the same?  

There is no crystal ball to clearly see what is inevitable and what is enduring. However, there are steps to take that can help you make an informed decision.  

Organizations must constantly adapt to stay ahead of threats to their business while at the same time they need to find new ways to take their products to market. 

Based on our experience partnering with customers of every shape and size for the past 30 years, we’ve identified a few key steps to working towards such progress: 

  • Slow down to go fast.
  • Seek organizational input with key stakeholders.
  • Identifying barriers & inhibitors to speed.
  • Focus on flexibility and future proofing.
  • And return to the basics and measure often.

If you’re interested in learning more about these steps, WWT Senior Digital Client Director Derek Shon, who has over 20 years delivering direct to consumer technology implementations, digital strategy and transformations, has taken a deep dive in how organizations can traverse this roadmap

Innovation is a team sport. 

WWT works hand-in-hand with customers to create unique partnerships that establish business outcomes to drive strategy and technology investment. In the end, transformation is the destination. By combining strategy and execution, customers can more quickly move along their journey to becoming a more digitally savvy organization that can swiftly maneuver to meet constantly evolving market forces.