Tag Archives: innovation

Pursuit of Innovation– It’s Messy! It’s Wasteful! It’s Inefficient! It’s the Antagonist of Business Minimalism…

The ‘relentless pursuit of innovation’ is life-blood of all great organizations… The ability to identify new opportunities and develop solutions that businesses and consumers will embrace is the cornerstone of innovation… While it’s a simple concept, its execution is much more complex and great companies are in a constant race to be the innovator in their industry… According to Jon Mertz; innovation are those ‘wake-up’ moments when an organization realizes that they are on the wrong track and they need to change… Or, other times when they are inspired with ‘big idea’, which can take organization to whole new level competitiveness… But innovation is not pretty– it’s messy, it’s inefficient, it’s wasteful…

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Then there are other organizations that are less inspired and constantly searching for– waste, inefficiency… they strive to become– lean and mean– which is an inward looking strategy that embraces ‘the relentless pursuit of efficiency’… but the main purpose of an organization is to create ‘value’, not to focus on efficiency… Innovation creates ‘value’, whereas the pursuit of efficiency can improve the ‘bottom line’, but rarely creates value… However innovation is difficult; it means messing around; trying things, messing things up, again and again… it’s ‘waste’ but ‘good waste’…

In the article Productivity Paradox by Wickham Skinner writes: Efficiency is an instinctive response to improve business performance metrics– it creates very little value. According to William Abernathy; an organization can easily become prisoner in search for greater efficiency… for some organization its obsession… they try to wring out ever drop of waste, inefficiency… which can be counter productive… When managers grow up in this atmosphere, their skills, vision… never fully develop– they instinctively strive to minimize all inefficiencies, waste… while missing broad opportunities to stimulate growth through innovation… The harsh fact is generations of managers are stunted by this efficiency-driven mentality… For many organization efficiency is single dimension of performance and deeply ingrained in culture… And, it can create a toxic work environment that drives-out creative, innovative people at all levels…

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In the article Economy Is Obsessed with Efficiency by Umair Haque writes: The noble pursuit of efficiency is becoming something more like a frenzied, perhaps even a self-destructive obsession… The relentless pursuit of efficiency stagnates the economy, it’s not stimulation… The challenge for robust economy is not more efficiency, but more relevant innovation… Yet many organization only focus on the relentless pursuit of efficiency… The message here is not to demonize the quest for more efficiency, but to think a little more wisely about it… Hence, the challenge for– leaders, investors, inventors, dreamers… is not merely to make things more efficient, but to create life-changing innovation…

In the article Efficiency and Inefficiency by Charles Beckett writes: Efficiency is a paring down to essentials, a stripping away of extraneous or unnecessary things… in many organizations efficiency  is about– lean, stripped-down, minimal… things that are  absolutely necessary to exist– it’s the minimalist view that simple is better… It’s the removal of all– distractions, untidiness… and according to minimalist it creates a powerful symbolism of power, symmetry, perfection… In corporate terms, and indeed in economic terms, we tend to think of efficiency as something that requires a burning away (of chaff, or waste…) until we are left with only that which is absolutely necessary to get the job done… However, according to many experts; genuine creativity and originality must, by definition, have a degree of inefficiency… Part of the beauty of innovation is the vagary of the journey…

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In the article Businesses Can Kill Innovation by Nick Heath writes: Organizations can easily fall into traps that stifle innovation and lead to stagnation… They often embrace behaviors that stifle innovation they claim to promote. These behaviors are frequently unconscious– a side effect of practices that are entrenched in some organizations and inadvertently smother innovation without even realizing it, e.g.:

  • Refuse to Upset Core Business: Companies that refuse to consider any activity that might disrupt established business risk, ignoring technological and societal changes that will eventually eat away at their core… According to Mark Raskino; companies can become fixated on the idea that they produce a certain type of good or service and are unable to accept that in a changing environment they need to shift their business towards doing something else…
  • Blind to the Bigger Picture: Focusing too heavily on short-term outcomes can exhaust a company’s opportunity to innovate… Constantly fighting fires to ensure revenues and profits are in line with forecasts and to maintain the confidence of shareholders is a common impulse for managers… According to Mark Raskino; the dominant job of management is to keep the enterprise going, with almost the same outcome year-over-year, which is a miracle in itself because the world outside is changing…
  • Listen to Customers: According to Steve Jobs; people don’t know what they want until you show it to them… According to Clayton Christensen; most customers are not able to visualize how product or service could better serve them… Instead of straight-out asking customers what they want, examine their habits carefully to learn what they want to do in their lives, and create product or service that meets that need…
  • Dismiss Failures: Companies that pooh-pooh ideas as old hat could be shutting the door to valuable opportunities… According to Mark Raskino; just because an idea crashed and burned earlier, it doesn’t mean that it won’t succeed later… Ideas move in fits and starts. They go away and come back again, but they are never exactly the same– due to technologies and cultural change…
  • Confuse Technology with Innovation: It’s a mistake to think that the path to innovation lies through latest technology… According to Mark Raskino; innovation is doing new things in new ways for customers, some of which may or may not involve new technology… This idea that simply doing ‘show-and-tell’ with new technology is somehow innovation in itself is very naïve…

Nothing stifles innovation like a good, old-fashioned– ‘stuck in the rut’… According to Kou Murayama, Andrew Elliot; when managers, workers… concentrate on specific business performance goals, they only see the ‘little’ picture in front of their eyes and use only the existing and proven techniques to get the job done… hence creativity may often fall by the wayside… In contrast, when managers, workers… strive to become masters at their jobs, they tend to grasp the ‘big’ picture and are more likely imagine new ideas to improve  overall results…

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According to Gregory Berns; the human brain is a ‘lazy piece of meat’ and it’s gotten lazy because it has evolved for efficiency, it likes to take perceptual shortcuts to save energy. Thinking ‘inside the rut’ takes a lot less energy than getting ‘outside the rut’– it’s more efficiency but it limits growth… Hence, great leaders must lift their managers, workers… out of habitual ‘in the rut’ thinking they must encourage them to expand the possibilities for more innovative solutions… When an organization is obsessive with efficiency it’s preoccupied with the ‘rut’… being ‘stuck in the rut’ blinds the senses for innovating thinking that can lift an organization to much higher levels of sustainability…

Power of Moonshot Thinking– Beyond Crazy, Stupid, Even Fringe of Sci-Fi: But Without It, There is No Giant Leap…

It starts with a dream, a crazy thought– moonshot thinking is a concept that revolves around radical change… According to Shamash Alidina; moonshot thinking is the opposite of the way most organization think… most organizations think about how they can make themselves– 10% better, not 10x better… But 10% better is what most competitors do… But there is different way– it’s another level of thinking; it’s stupid, crazy, science fiction (Sci-Fi)… More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy captured world’s imagination when he said; U.S. will land man on the moon and return safely to earth… and thus the term ‘moonshot’ entered the lexicon as shorthand for– ‘difficult and unimaginable task, the outcome of which is expected to have great significance’

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According to Scott D. Anthony and Mark Johnson; all good moonshots have three key ingredients: 1.) It inspires: Kennedy’s quote raises the spirit; a more typical corporate goal of increasing return on invested capital from 13.4% to 13.9%, not so much. That kind of financial target might be important, but it’s unlikely to get people to do extraordinary things… 2.) It’s credible: It’s easy to assume that a moonshot is just a ridiculous stretch target, but before Kennedy made his speech he had made a detailed assessment of the underlying technological trends to ensure that the goal had a reasonable chance of success… 3.) It’s imaginative: It isn’t an obvious extrapolation of what’s happening today (which for Kennedy would simply have been to fly farther into space), but something that offers a meaningful break from the past…

In the article Moonshots by Astor Teller writes: Moonshot’s live in a place that is between audacious, and pure science fiction… Yet the lessons people are taught from early age is to– play it safe, don’t do stupid things, walk before you run, slow and steady wins the race, under-promise and over-deliver… In repeating these mantras the message is very clear– don’t think big… Moonshot thinking starts with picking a big problem; something huge, unthinkable, impossible… Next it involves articulating a radical solution– one that would actually solve the problem, if it exists– something that might that sounds like it’s out of a Sci-Fi story… Also, there needs to be some kind of concrete evidence that the proposed solution is not quite as crazy or impossible as it might seem…

Something that justifies at least a close look at whether such a solution could be brought into being if enough– creativity, passion, persistence… were brought to bear on it. This evidence could be some breakthrough in technology that could actually make the solution possible within say, a decade or so… Without all of these things, you may have a Sci-Fi or crazy idea, but you don’t have a moonshot… And for sure not one where you can aim for new heights, and address a big challenge in a ‘maybe-not-totally-crazy’ kind of way… Often, if you just step back and apply enough audacity, creativity, persistence– you can get new perspective that makes doing the impossible, possible…

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In the article Future-Proof Your Business With Moonshot Thinking by Anthony Scherba writes: Any organization can use moonshot thinking to anticipate change– not to mention brainstorming more effective ways of developing a new competitive strategy by asking questions, such as: Is your competitive advantage truly sustainable? Will current strategies be competitive in your industry for 5, 10, 20 years? According to Clayton Christensen; there are serious pitfalls focusing solely on fulfilling the needs of current customers… The dilemma comes into play when a successful business gets comfortable, and neglects to explore new ideas because customers are happy with the current state of the solution…

But moonshot thinking is easier said than done: It’s very tempting to pour big money in futuristic hypothetical ‘what ifs’, as opposed to investing money in more immediate, less exciting improvement projects… But you don’t need to make big investments to start looking ahead; holding occasional brainstorming sessions focused on the future of your industry can help solidify your organizations place in that environment… and you can get a better sense of what challenges you are facing in future… and to better understand how you must evolve to drive the organization forward. Get ahead of the curve by asking ‘what if’, before your competitors do…

In the article Applying Moonshot Thinking by Zog writes: Great leaders should be the optimal blend of– creative and analytical…They should represent a constant balance between the– right and left brain. They should take great pride in trying something new knowing that there is risk but also great reward… Thinking in moonshots doesn’t mean abandoning the analytical side; it just dares you to think beyond immediate metrics and traditional practices– it allows freedom of thought… Making moonshot thinking part of strategy means– accessing risk and optimal flexibility… The correct blend of moonshot in a strategy can help propel your ‘brand’ and organization forward… Taking risks can yield incredible rewards; when an organizations allows its team members to think boldly they can reap great rewards… and even with failures the journey will make your organization stronger, more resilient… The best (most profitable) ideas often come when you allow  your people to forgo the status quo and think big…

Moonshot thinking is a very risky proposition, it’s totally different approach to innovation, but one of the most important lessons is that– some things are perceived to be impossible until you actually try them… The moonshot thinking is not encouraged or embraced by most organization, because of the risk it involves and low probability of successful outcome… but despite its hazardous aspect it does give whole new twist for thinking… Society needs 10x gains to solve many of its biggest problems; most of the difficult issues are exponentiating, e.g.; world population is rising on exponential curve… use of resources per person is rising on an exponential curve… Humankind needs to keep pace with these and many other challenges to manage and sustain life on this planet… and incremental thinking isn’t going to get you there…

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In the article Stop Looking For Moonshot Ideas, Focus on Simple Solutions by Bobby Emamian writes: Not every idea has to be an earth-shaking innovation… the key is that every strategic step (whether big or small), should be an important improvement for a more competitive organization… and although tempting, big or crazy ideas (moonshot) are usually a big waste of time and resources, and a distraction from the core business… Power of an idea isn’t in its– creativity, brilliance, originality… because ideas have no value until they are actually put into action… true value of ideas lie in their potential to solve real problems. The so-called ‘moonshot’ ideas that don’t solve real problems only distract the mission and derails progress…

Business needs ideas that will actually advance the organization– new initiative that address a real problem, or perceived problem, or issues that customers face, or that improve the existing organization… An idea need not be game changer ( moonshot) to make a big impact on the organization… The best way to avoid chasing useless ideas or ignoring important ones is to ensure all solutions align with organization’s core purpose… Next time someone comes-up with an idea that’s going to be game changer (moonshot); first, determine if it solves real problems or provides convenience that really matters.

Most organizations would be perfectly happy improving their organization by 10%… but according to Larry Page at Google; if you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you are doing wrong things. He challenges his company (Google) to think in moonshots — ideas so large that they require the kind of creativity and innovation that are necessary to literally and figuratively put a man on the moon… This thinking tasks an organization to do things by 10x– 10x bigger, 10x cheaper, 10x faster… Either disrupt your organization, or someone else will… When you shoot for 10x improvement you approach the problem in a radically different fashion…

moon2 thDo you have a moonshot idea? Many people who discuss crazy ideas, get laughed at, e.g.; when the mission of landing man on the moon started, most people just laughed and thought it was crazy, bizarre! No one believed that it would ever happen. Who thought about; Internet, social media, driverless car, mobile phones, new medicines… would really happen? These all started with an idea that was thought to be stupid, crazy… Nobody actually knew how to build an airplane till it was done… We always appreciate– courage, and audacity of a moonshot, once it’s accomplished. Luckily there are a few people who are– stupid enough, bold enough… that they follow a dream: Yes most moonshot’s fail, but the few that do succeed change the world…

Innovation Is Dead– Ingenuity is Mother of Invention: Doing More with Less– Ingenuity Drives Creativity…

Innovation is dead; killed off by– overuse, misuse, narrowness, incrementalism, failure to evolve… According to phil mckinney; focus on ‘ingenuity’ it’s the key component that enables innovation… Ingenuity is the power of creative imagination; the quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful; inventiveness. Ingenuity is the key ingredient and the spark that creates innovation… According to Norman Heatley; pursuit of innovation demands ingenuity– the ability to come up with solutions that are original and clever, within the given constraints. As technology and markets converge, the gap between what’s possible and what’s practical gets smaller… Human ingenuity enables a company to jump that gap before its competitors do… Ingenuity drives innovation– today’s challenge is  creating more value using fewer resources; it requires real ingenuity and it’s happening all over the world… the ‘more for more’ business model is running out of steam…

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Accoding to Navi Radjou; businesses must tap into the most abundant cheap resource: human ingenuity… In India they call it ‘jugaad’, a Hindi word meaning an innovative fix or improvised solution using ingenuity and resourcefulness. Jugaad solutions are not sophisticated or perfect, but they create value at a lower cost… They cleverly transform adversity into opportunity and turn something of less value into something of high value. In other words, they master the art of doing ‘more with less’… A similar approach is called ‘gambiarra’ in Brazil, ‘zizhu chuangxin’ in China… it’s MacGyver-ism, TV show in 1980s, where the character ‘MacGyver’ had uncanny ability, with just most basic resources to produce ingenious answers to almost any challenge… his name is synonymous with creative ingenuity…

In the article Ingenuity: Pathway to Innovation by Matthew May writes: Ingenuity is equal parts creativity (something original), application (something built), and value (something useful)…. Why ingenuity? Because creativity as a concept scares the average big company denizen, for two reasons: First, because conventional wisdom treats it as special quality, a mystical talent, selectively reserved for ‘le artistewho waits for a kiss of the muse to inspire a masterpiece. Which, of course, is nonsense but certainly convenient; by thinking of creativity as natural gift you can relieve accountability for ingenuity, and excuse failure to innovate all in a single stroke…

Second, because creativity seems somehow ‘soft’ and unrelated to the hard-edged tactics thought to be needed to succeed on the business battlefield… Every year, work gets more complex. Business gets more competitive. Jobs get more specialized. Careers get less stable. Goals get more challenging. Budgets shrink. Deadlines tighten. And all the while, the pace of change just keeps accelerating… How are you going to deal with all that? You’ve got more to do and less to do it with. You have no choice other than to get more creative, more resourceful… You have to build, ship something, and that something needs to deliver value to someone somewhere, or you’ll quickly find yourself irrelevant… Ingenuity is closer to that kind of applied creativity…

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In the article The Leader’s New Chisel by Craig Perrin writes: Innovate or die– is no longer a cliché… It describes the real choice many organizations face in the current economy– rethink everything from strategy to products to daily operation or risk oblivion.  Ingenuity, has taken on new meaning and new urgency. Today, offering and executing good ideas is not enough. Leaders must create a culture in which innovation can thrive. To respond to new threats and opportunities, leaders must question everything… Innovation at one time was a little-used skill at the bottom of a leader’s tool box, and fished-out for incremental improvements here or there. Today, leaders need sharp new tools and requisite skills to create true culture of ingenuity: curious, challenging, collaborative, confidence, team building, customer relevant… Leaders strong in the zone of ‘ingenuity’ must help their teams to create a motivating shared-vision of future success…

In the article Ingenuity: Super Skill by Dorothy H. Bray writes: Ingenuity is the skill of working out how to achieve things or invent new things or ideas… Ingenuity is unique as a pluralistic skill; it’s a blended skill, built on fusion of– aptitude, capability, proficiency, ability… It’s a super-skill; deriving its energy from shared-communication, creativity, cognitive problem solving… its inventive skills; imaginative and clever new ideas, and interdisciplinary… Synonyms for ingenuity include;  inventiveness, resourcefulness, shrewdness it’s a cooperative process resulting in the production of ideas that solves real problems… Recent research suggests that creativity is not simply a product of personality or individual psychology, but rather rooted in teachable competences that includes; idea generation, improvisation, metaphorical and analogical reasoning, divergent thinking that explores many possible solutions, counterfactual reasoning, synthesis of competing solutions…

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In the article Ingenuity by Jordan Ritter writes: When you talk about something that’s ingenious, there’s a confluence of three factors; challenge, idea, pursuit of solution… Today in technology, most people are substituting the word ‘innovation’ for ‘ingenuity’, and that this is getting in the way of real experimentalism and true breakthroughs… Part of the problem is that the word ‘innovation’ has been co-opted in a marketing context; people are exposed to an explosion of information, there’s a cascade of ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘leading-edge’ solutions that are characterized as ‘innovations’… when in fact they are an exercise of ingenuity…

Call it tinkering. Or testing. Or tweaking… Whatever you call it, it’s the enemy of the status quo, of complacency, of the ordinary… Want to work like an artist? Then new and different is the creed, because for an artist– ‘as is’; just isn’t acceptable… So it’s not enough to be technically proficient at something; sure, to be a true master at anything, one must first gain command of ‘old school’ methods, but competence and workmanship is just the ante to the game… According to Matthew May; ingenuity is about new, better, different… and it’s a marvel when some people not only perform the basics to near perfection, but then actually change the game and achieve hero status… it’s the application of imagination and ingenuity. It’s constant exploration and leveraging different ideas, methods… it’s a creative mind-shift…

According to Kelvin Odoobo; to achieve ingenious results you must be unattached to ‘having’ the right answer and instead, being attached to ‘finding’ the right answer… it’s experimentalism… and bias towards action, ability to move and change, willingness to be versatile in action and agile in thought… The people who have the greatest potential for ingenuity are those who have the greatest capacity for– fearlessness, critical thinking, adventurously learning new things… According to Manish Jha; often would-be innovators  stand on the shoulders of many successful giants of innovations who came before  them–to learn, to be inspired, to mimic… which is all good, but sometimes in this process the would-be innovators lose their originality and ingenuity and end-up accomplishing less…

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Is there a better way, different way? Exploration always starts with a ‘question’… And the ‘right question’ is far more important than the ‘right answer’. According to Milan Kundera;  people’s stupidity comes when they have an ‘answer’ for everything, whereas people’s wisdom comes when they have a ‘question’ for everything… The problem is that most people forget how to ask ‘questions’… In vast majority of– universities, institutions, organizations… they breed too much conformity of thought and not enough curiosity… They often are adamant about what is know and believe to be true; they limit themselves only to options that are– right in front of them, and fail to consider what’s truly possible…

Remember this fact; everything that is ‘known’, in today’s world, was at one time– unknown, unimagined, undiscovered… so it’s important that each person, as major part of their daily work, make a serious effort to– discovery, uncover, create… something that is currently unknown in the organization, something that improves state of– technology, or customers, or workers… Ask ‘questions’ and offer ‘creative’ solutions; ingenuity is all about asking the ‘right’ questions. Hence you too, by asking the ‘right’ questions, at the right ‘time’, at the ‘right’ place… and offering ‘creative’ solutions can become another MacGyver…

 

Riding the Waves of Innovation– Surfing the Engine of Economic Growth– Catch the Wave, or Risk Wipe-Out…

Innovation is the engine of economic growth; over the past 100 year it’s clear that innovation– more than inputs of capital and labor– is what drives a modern economy… Innovation and application of technological know-how and scientific discoveries accounts for over half of all economic growth… According to Irving Wladawsky-Berger; every decade or so (it used to be about every 50 years) the world goes through a major innovation technology-based economic revolution– also known as Kondratiev Waves… Historically, the cycle of innovations is as follows; a cycle starts when a new innovation begins to emerge, which stimulates investment, which invigorate markets, which gets embraced by entrepreneurs who start new businesses based on these new technologies, and begins to gain market share at the expense of the then existing technology… eventually, the new innovation dominates markets, set standards, kill-off weaker rivals… but then over time, it too becomes venerable from other emerging new innovations…

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Eventually, the cycle of innovation is repeated; it begins again as a new wave, which destroys the old way of doing things and creates conditions for a new cycle… According to Joseph Schumpeter; it’s a process of– ‘creative destruction’… These new innovations continue to attract more and more financial capital from investors, which in turn helps to improve the quality and lowers the cost of the new technology, and leads to many new innovative applications… And over time, these new paradigms significantly transform global economies, as well as, re-shaping social behavior and institutions of society… Hence, the previous decades of ‘creative destruction’ now become a golden age of ‘creative construction’…

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In the article The Surfers of Innovation by Maurício Manhães writes: The sport of surfing is a perfect metaphor for understanding the phenomenon of innovation… Of course, I am not the first person to equate waves with innovation in business. This discourse was created by several early researchers and further developed by Joseph Schumpeter, who in his theory connected– innovations, cycles, development… and his continuing hero was the entrepreneur… But for me, it’s a surfer… For Schumpeter, capitalism ‘looks like’ an evolutionary process producing– continually alternating waves of innovation and destruction… which are waves, followed by waves, all come crashing onto a beach… Hence, surfing offers countless metaphors that can help to understand the evolutionary nature of ‘innovation’, for example:

  • The Wave: Nobody creates a wave. It just ‘happens’ out of countless uncontrollable interactions of the sea with winds, the movement of the moon, and anything else that affects bodies of water. Surfers don’t create waves… A wave is just a wave and no more. It may be small, medium large or a ‘tube’. It may be good for surfing or not… The wave, as a generative metaphor, symbolizes the will of a social context to direct its resources/energy towards a sector or product (goods or services). The ‘sea’, in this metaphor represents human beings, a society; and, incredible as it may seem, society is as uncontrollable as the wave…
  • The Surfer: So, the wave is uncontrollable. But, it can be surfed. And it may be poorly or very well surfed… In the case of innovation, the surfer is like an entrepreneur. The wave is the ‘energy’, channeled by a sea of people in a certain ‘direction’. The surfer’s maneuvers are the products created. And in that resides an interesting concept: the maneuvers do not themselves create waves; likewise, products do not create demands…
  • The Beach: Well, the beach is the niche of expertise, each with its own characteristic set of waves. One that may be crowded or just have you alone on it. Indeed, the pleasure of riding the perfect wave on a deserted beach might be phenomenal… but finding a ‘new’ beach with perfect waves is a very risky adventure. Most of the times it’s better to head for a well-known surfer’s beach and try to create new maneuvers…
  • Innovation: Joining these elements (i.e., wave, surfer, beach) you can understand the dynamics of innovation a little better. We can also clearly see the  difficulty of predicting who will be the next innovative ‘billionaire’. For this to occur requires the coincidence of these three factors: ideal beach, prefect wave, gifted surfer…

In the article Riding the Crest of the Wave by Leonard Sweet writes: Riding the crest of a wave can be the ‘moment’ when you are most likely to be swept into– depression, panic… or, euphoric exhilaration… Reaching a position of success and acceptance, through innovations; entails hard, slogging work… long hours of study, unfulfilling chores, unimportant ‘entry’ level jobs, carefully cultivated ‘right’ relationships… The moment of your greatest success and achievement is when you are riding the crest of a great wave of business ingenuity, is also the moment you are most likely to be subjected to the severest temptations; gnawed by your most debilitating insecurities, and seduced into believing the most grandiose visions of your own abilities… For most then, wave-riding puts you into dangerous and tenuous positions, but reaching the crest of the wave and riding with the wind is an ecstatic experience… Remember the poster of the Peanuts’ beagle ‘Snoopy’, surfing at the tip of a perfectly curled wave, shouting his victory cry; Cowabunga! It’s these moments of pure joy, of unabashed rejoicing, but they are only ‘moments’… It’s how you follow-up those sporadic successes that determines your ability to grow, so that you may be prepared to struggle your way up the next on-coming wave…

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In the article Releasing Innovation: Riding the Wave by Scott Propp writes: Something amazing happens when a wave of innovation moves through your company; lifting-up and carrying the ripest ideas all the way to market without losing their freshness and vitality… However, most companies are actually doing the opposite– they are focused on pushing innovation that fits within a pre-existing model, out the door… The problem here is that once a product has been successful within a first core market, other growing market needs, tend to go unnoticed. It’s important to remember that once one set of needs is locked onto and served, it’s time to look for the next wave– and for sure another one is always being formed: Finding this next wave takes– listening, learning, doing… Instead of just pushing and driving innovation from within an organization, you want to become perfectly poised to catch and ride the edges of two waves: the technology capability wave’ and the ‘market needs wave’… Finding the next wave is essential for sustainability, and when an organization catches the next wave and its formation is just right, the effects on business are transformational…

There is no shortage of new innovations in the world, but innovations without execution are just that, innovations…It’s vital to have the courage to champion your innovation with passion and conviction, take the appropriate risks to ensure that it goes from a sketch to a finished product, and the tenacity to ensure that nothing gets in the way of seeing it to commercialization… According to Shawn Parr; innovation is hard, because it means finding new, original ways to solve problems, or inventing something completely new. There are always significant barriers in the journey to commercialize innovation, which is laden with many challenges, reasons to quit… It takes incredible determination to do something new for the first time and overcome the obstacles to succeed…

According to Edward Draper; innovation is like a wave; there are people in it, and people riding on it. The trick is to ride the wave your are on, and to prepare for the next wave… Like surfing and comedy, timing is everything; if you try to move too soon you are likely to be wiped-out or lost– if you move too late all the energy is gone… Innovation is scary– and not just to those that are being disrupted… but also for the disruptor who is driving radical change, and although it might be very exciting… but it’s also full of risk… An innovative wave is full of adrenalin-fuelled energy, and best place to be is– riding its crest, like the surfer…

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According to Alex Frankel; surfing is all about spotting the opportunity to crest the wave in a turbulent environments… In big-wave surfing, you must stay calm in chaos, and the big attraction in surfing is that you never master it, very much like business… That’s why people get so hooked; as soon as you think that you have everything wired, a wave comes along and wipes you out, again very much like business… According to Sharad Sharma; surfing the waves of innovation means having behavioral traits, such as; stepping outside one’s comfort zone… having an internal compass, relying on one’s self-mastery… getting comfortable to stand out, being an underdog… persisting in the face of adversity…

According to David Brier; the single difference between the innovator and the ordinary person; innovators sees the dots and connected them, while others 1) didn’t see them, or 2) if they did, they didn’t– explore, question, or connect any of them… It’s a constant attentiveness to how things are applied… it’s the foundation for innovation… So what is innovation? It’s those other dots; the ones others miss… and, having the certainty to know that the dots you see are not only valid, but necessary if the world is to move forward…

Business Breakthroughs– Customers Involvement– Listen to Customers Vs. Don’t Listen to Customer: Understand Differences

Business breakthroughs shape and redefine markets and industries… a breakthrough is moving beyond incrementalism… great brands lead customers, and not the other way around… however, the concept of business breakthroughs often leads to controversial discussion of– What is the customer’s role in the process? Some experts suggest that breakthroughs evolves from a shift in customer involvement– from asking customers what they want, to a broader understanding of their needs and drivers… pretty much in accordance with the message of targeting customers on the level of needs, rather than on the level of solutions… Breakthroughs address ‘needs’ that customers often cannot articulate and solutions that they cannot even imagine; hence, the customer’s feedback is mostly marginal when defining breakthrough requirements… in effect, breakthroughs require understanding customers, but not necessarily listening to them…

According to Shaun Smith; of course you need to listen to customers to keep business continuously improving and to identify problems with existing customer experience… But, what customers say they want from you is probably exactly the same thing they tell your competitors too– so if you act on that alone, there is likely to be more in common between you and your competitors than there is that sets you apart. Customers want to be surprised and delighted and to surprise and delight them you don’t have to ask, but you do have to understand them…

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According to  Steve Jobs; it sounds logical to ask customers what they want and then give it to them, but they rarely wind up getting what they really want that way… Seeing beyond customers’ requests is something that is easier said than done… According to Tom Peters and others; the customers that are least likely to help you move on to the next innovation are the biggest customers you have… ask them what they want and it’s likely to be the usual thing– better, faster, cheaper… They want a better version of what they already have… Innovative businesses are adept at seeing under the surface of what customers really want, and they understand that customers don’t really know what they want until they actually see it. This ability is best expressed by a German word ‘zeitgeist’; which means the emerging spirit of the age or mood of the moment, and it’s probably best translated as market readiness or customer readiness– the ability to see what the market is ready for, before the market knows it itself… According to Henry Ford; if he had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses…

In the article Delight Customers By Giving Them What They Didn’t Ask For by David Sturt writes: When customers ask you for something, your first inclination is to give it to them. Naturally, your goal is to deliver value to those who pay the bills… And, the customer is always right, right? But it depends; when it comes to breakthroughs, customers can be woefully inadequate sources for new solutions. Inventors of market-disrupting ideas know that what people think will attract them to a new product or service may often be very different from what actually does… According to Mark Cuban; your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy: Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service: That’s your job… Does that mean you ignore customer opinions altogether, and trust only intuitive geniuses to design the future? Or, take the opposite approach and try to get your customers to tell you what’s next? The answer is somewhere in between, and that’s where breakthroughs gets messy, and interesting. According to Steve Jobs; it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them…

True breakthrough is really the art of what product developers call empathic design, and empathic design involves careful consumer observation and investigation– rather than traditional market research– to identify latent, inarticulate needs that customers may not even know they have… In other words, you can’t ask customers to do your thinking for you. But you can become so familiar with customer habits, problems, and patterns that you are able to surprise them with a solution they didn’t even know was possible until you give it to them… Often the problem with customer feedback, is that they simply can’t get out of the gravitational pull of what currently exists– customer-led breakthrough leads to sameness and incrementalism… According to a ‘Harvard Business Review article on empathic design; sometimes customers are so accustomed to current conditions that they don’t think to ask for a new solution; in other words, customers can’t always tell you what they need, you can only find out by seeing for yourself…

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In the article Don’t Listen to Customers by Sherrie Mersdorf writes: I disagree with the statement that you should ‘never’ listen to customers… without listening to customers it’s impossible to sustain a business… but ‘only’ listening to customers is unsustainable, as well: Obviously there is be a middle ground… Hence, in order for a business to excel and prosper they must develop offerings that not only meet existing customers needs, but also meet needs that their customers don’t even know exists… Business leaders must always be reminded that– it’s not the job of their customers to ‘know what they don’t know’. In other words, most customers have a tough enough time just doing their jobs, and don’t spend any time trying to reinvent markets or industries… Sure, every now and then, you come across a person at a customer site who has exceptional insights and who can be useful to help you define the next generation product or service, but this person is rare and you cannot bet the business on finding that one person…

According to Alan Kay; the best way to predict the future is to invent it. Of course you need to listen to customers, and take their feedback, hear their pain, listen to what’s broken, and also do something beyond their imaginations. If you don’t do something beyond what customers know they want, someone else will. Most customers cannot really imagine the breakthrough ‘value’ or ‘need’ until they see it and experience it… then, you need to listen to them when they tell you what’s broken and what delights them… Yes, listen to them, delight them, but don’t expect them to create the future road map for your business: That’s your job…

In the article Great Brand Don’t Always Listen to Customers by Bruce Temkin writes: Should business eliminate or ignore their customers insights or abandon the voice of customers in their quest for breakthroughs? No, but they do need to understand basic customer issues, and listen for and recognize value factors that are limiting customers’ performance… Let’s examine a few realities of customer feedback:

  • Customers are grounded in today: Customers are not very good at projecting the future and even less effective at explaining what they need when things change…
  • Customers are most articulate about dislikes: When it comes to bad experiences, customers know it when they see it, and they are more likely to share information about it. According to research; 34% of consumers give feedback to a company after a very bad experience, but only 21% did the same after a very good experience…
  • Customers are least articulate about their desires: It’s very hard to understand what customers truly desire, since they often don’t recognize it themselves, or limit their focus to match their preconceived view of your business…
  • Customers aren’t designers: Customers cannot tell you how to design your products or services. You must have strong people in your organization that can architect the important customer experiences…

In the article Don’t Listen to Your Customers by Leonard Koenig writes: Listen to your customers– that’s what they teach in business school, that’s what most business leaders preach… And it makes sense, it’s the single most important thing successful companies do; well maybe, yes and no… To a certain degree, it’s yes, even necessary to listen to customers, but beware, it’s a fairly shortsighted way of operating a business, and it can put you out of business in the long run… First, by listening diligently to customers, you narrow-in on a specific value network and you may forget to think holistic, broad, big picture… Second, and most important you forget to innovate…

The best– and the worst– way of learning about market demand is to ask the customer: Yes, it’s the ‘best’ way because customers can provide valuable feedback… Yes, it’s the ‘worst’ way because customers really don’t really know what they want; they know what their problems are, and what they like and what they don’t like… And typically, customers just ask for ‘more’; more features, more options, more performance, more, more… Customers will always ask for something based on what they already know or have already experienced… According to Ann Latham; yes you should listen to customers but don’t just do as they say! Too often customers know what they want but not what they need…

Most customers often can’t think out of their current paradigm to consider something new or revolutionary… The only way to really tell what you’re customers will do is not to ask, but to give them a choice and watch them choose… The companies that look beyond what their customers say or what they ask for, and also spend the time to discover what they really ‘need’ seem to be the businesses that really succeed. According to David; give people what they need, not what they think they want. The gap between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is trap that separates ‘good’ from ‘great’ businesses. It’s not an easy trap to avoid and responding to a customer ‘s every expressed whim is process that gives you mediocrity.

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According to Michael Krigsman; customers can be extremely helpful in identifying gaps in products, but real breakthroughs doesn’t usually come from customers. Yes, you should absolutely listen to customers, but don’t expect that they will always lead you to the place you want to be… According to Gary Hamel; the future is already with us, and it’s just at the edges… What starts off as fringe ends up mainstream. So, if  you are going to listen to customers you may want to start with those noisy, complaining, fringe customers who are always asking for something completely different from what you are currently offering, of course, providing they are really your target customers…

Remember that true business breakthroughs, true change, will never happen through simply listening to customers… Finding the perfect balance between listening to your customers on one hand, and maintaining a broad, holistic, and sustainable strategy, on the another hand, is very challenging… But just listening to your customers is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for short-term success and long-term failure. Stay curious, stay open, stay creative, keep innovating, keep pushing for breakthroughs; think different, think big… business’ job is to give customers not what they want, but what they never dreamed that they wanted; then when they gets it, they recognizes it as something they wanted all along…

Crazy Business Ideas– Great Innovations Live On The Edge of Ridiculousness: To Win Big– It Helps To Be a Little Nutty…

Crazy Business Ideas– Stumped for ideas for your ‘make-it-big’ business? Think Crazy… Crazy ideas in business can be a game plan for game changers… We are living through the age of disruption. You can’t do big things if you’re content with doing things a little better than everyone else, or a little different from how you did them before. In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop dislocation, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something ‘special’. Today, the most successful organizations don’t just out-compete their rivals– they redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world filled with me-too thinking… According to unknown Texas genius; he put it simply: if all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got…

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Don’t use the long shadow of economic crisis and slow recovery as an excuse to downsize your dreams or stop taking chances. The challenge for leaders in every field is to emerge from turbulent times with closer connections to their customers, with more energy and creativity from their people, and with greater distance between them and their rivals… According to Bill Tayor; not every growth company is based in Silicon Valley or some other Internet hotspot. But the real lesson is more universal than that. The real story reminds all of us of the power of making big bets and staking out an ‘extreme’ position in the market… Company’s thrive because they carve out a truly one-of-a-kind presence in the market…

Have you ever thought about an idea for the business, but sidelined it because it sounded crazy? Maybe you should reconsider… According to Sidharth Thakur; walking the proven path by following conventional ideas and systematic procedures aren’t the only ways to build a successful business. The business world is full of examples where businesses have made it big by deviating from the usual and thinking afresh. There are many people who have come up with crazy business ideas and turned them into very successful business ventures: Who could have thought that a mere search engine (i.e., Google) would rule the world as advertising giant? Or, who would have thought of overnight shipping becoming a multi-million business for FedEx? There are thousands of businesses today that started off with some weird idea… According to Albert Einstein; problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them…

The lesson is simple– it’s not good enough anymore to be ‘pretty good’ at everything… The most successful companies know how to become ‘the most’ in their field– most elegant, most simple, most exclusive, most affordable, most seamless global, most intensely local… For decades, many organizations and their leaders were comfortable with strategies and practices that kept them in the ‘middle of the road’ and that’s what felt– safe, secure… But today, with much change, much pressure, and many new ways to do just about everything, the ‘middle of the road’ is the road to nowhere… If you want to win big, you must stand for something ‘special’ — whether that’s– the widest selection, or most comprehensive reach, or most focused offerings, or most memorable services… All it requires is commitment to originality, and a willingness to challenge convention, and break from standard operating procedures; unfortunately that remains all-too-rare in business today, precisely because it can look a little ‘nutty’…

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In the article Crazy But True: Simple Ideas Turned Into Big Business by Staff PM writes: Many people patronize– Apple and Samsung– the high-profile, world-famous electronics business companies, but few people are aware that behind these skyrocketing, very highly innovative companies there lies– truly crazy ideas… Although there’s no clear connection between these companies, one thing is common and that’s purely a business sense: They both transformed themselves from simple beginnings and desperate earning ideas to major international companies… Their crazy and yet witty ideas have left trademarks in history. Think about it:

  • Apple’s first product was an illegal phone box: Steve Jobs with Steve Wozniak started Apple Company in a sort-of illegal tone… According to Markus Ehrenfried, in the history of Apple says: In 1971 Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak designed a device called the ‘Blue Box’. It allowed– of course illegal– phone calls free of charge by faking the signals used by the phone companies. His friend Steve Jobs instantly realized that there must be a huge market for something that useful. Woz built the boxes and Jobs sold them to his fellow students at the University of California, Berkeley… It’s crazy– a transformation from a phone box, Mac Computers to iPhone, iPad
  • Samsung’s first products were fish, fruits, and vegetables: According to Caroline Telford; Samsung started on March 1, 1938 when Byung-Chull Lee, the founding chairman of Samsung initiated a business in Korea with a capital of only 30,000 won. The primary products of what was then Samsung were– dried fish, fruits, vegetables… traded from Beijing, Manchuria… It’s crazy– a transformation from perishable goods to electronic products…

In the article Strange But Successful Business Ideas by Sidharth Thakur writes: You don’t need big money to build a big business! Instead, what you need is a big idea. And the more strange or creative the idea, the more earning potential it seems to have… For example; think of something as weird as ‘microwavable pillows’ or ‘poop-scooping’; can these be viable business options? Call them crazy, unusual, strange, use whatever adjective pleases you, but the fact remains that these and many other off-the-wall ideas have made some people very rich; just take a look at this short list of some strange business ideas that really took off… (Note: All of these achievers are just average people and most don’t have any business management qualifications… But who cares about– education or qualifications– they are successful businesses anyway)… So here, just to name a few of the weird and yet successful products: Doggles–Eyewear for Dogs: Dating Website for the Married: Dog Poop-Scooping: Sending Nagging Mails: Selling Antenna Balls: Pet Rocks… Being crazy or acting strange can actually mean a lot of money. The next time some weird business idea crosses your mind, don’t shake it away– just think it over as it may be your jackpot…

In the article Is Your Crazy Business Idea Home Run or Dud? by Jason writes: Needless to say, I come up with a lot of crazy ideas in some strange places: In the car, in the shower, heck, even in my sleep. All of them get written down somewhere and I revisit them at a later date when I’m not mobile, wet, unconscious… After taking a second glance at my list of ideas, about 95% of them are complete and total garbage. The other 5% have small shot at becoming something worth acting on… How do I know which is the ‘home run’ or ‘dud’? Ask yourself these five questions, and if the answer is yes to all five, well then, roll-up your  sleeves and make it happen!

  • Does the idea solve a problem, satisfy a desire? Necessity is the mother of invention. Ideas that are born out of need come complete with a built-in demand. It’s harder to sell someone, something they don’t need, desire…
  • Is the idea executable? Think through how this idea is going to work. Do you have the resources? Do you have the time, investment… to make it successful? Challenge yourself to ask the hard questions, get specific…
  • Is the idea marketable?  Best ideas are ones that market themselves. They either have the ‘wow’ factor or ‘why didn’t I think that’ or something that’s going to ‘turn heads’… If the idea has that surprising element or share factor built-in, it is much more likely to be successful…
  • Does the idea have a shelf life? Maybe it seems like a good idea today, but is it something that will be a good idea in six months or five years? Think hard about where the market is now and where you think it’s headed. Does the idea still solve a problem down the road or will it still be shareable?
  • Is the value of the idea worth the investment? Crazy ideas can be crazy smart– or a crazy waste of everyone’s time… Ask yourself if the outcome is going to be worth the input? Will the idea bring enough value to the customer, and can I make money?

A little madness can be the best business weapon– launching a new business, creating the improbable, making something out of nothing… these are leaps into unknown… According to Barry J. Moltz; if a person was perfectly sane and followed all the ‘safe’ rules, they probably won’t take such a leap... According to Valerie Young; next time you get a crazy business idea do two things: One, get a notebook and label it ‘crazy business ideas’… In one section, collect examples of crazy idea that have worked. In another, keep a running list of your own crazy money-making ideas… Next, seek out people who will support the idea… As the great actor Katherine Hepburn once said; life is to be lived, and if you have to support yourself, you bloody well better find some way that’s going to be interesting… Dumb ideas make money, so who knows; what is ridiculous to one person may actually fly with others… But, remember that not all such ideas ‘stick’, since more offbeat something is, less likely you may find a market for it– so some ideas take off, some flounder, some just crash…

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The point is: There is nothing wrong with a few crazy business ideas… According to Joe Wilcox: it’s not about goals, it’s about pushing the boundaries, discovering something… According to Brendan Boyle; big innovation is right on the edge of ridiculous ideas. You need an environment that isn’t quite so judgmental about a ridiculous idea. Sometimes those are the ones that are so close to being the brilliant ones… According to Nathaniel Nead; keep it real– crazy business ideas are crazy… there are limitless numbers of crazy business ideas, everywhere… but remember these words– ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls, just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you know’… According to Tom Kelley; don’t just tell people about the idea, show them that it’s possible… It’s always been the seemingly improbable, boundary-pushing ideas that have created the world around us– and none of that would have been possible if they listened to all the people who said– it will never work… we’d still be living in caves, if we relied on skeptics… According to David Worrell; crazy ideas move us in the direction of unique solutions… If the problem you’ve identify is real and resonates with the customer, watch out!  That’s a recipe for a very successful new business. So dig up all those crazy business ideas and imagine what you could do… Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!

Better Mousetrap–Myopia; Build It, They Will Come… Baloney! Business Reality– Better, Is Not Good Enough Anymore…

A wise man once wrote: If a business builds a better mousetrap, the world will make a beaten path to their door… Well, that’s not exactly what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, but it’s close enough… ah, build a better mouse trap, yes; it’s a business goal to build a better mouse trap– and not just different mouse trap but a ‘better’ mouse trap… but, ‘better’ is relative: Better for whom? Better for what? Why should consumers care? According to Steve Denning; once upon a time, business could succeed by building a better mousetrap, but the world has changed– Building a better mousetrap is not good enough anymore and businesses that don’t recognize it will not survive– now, business success requires a synthesis between understanding markets, new technology, design, simplicity… Now, it’s the principles of ‘radical change’ management that matters– it’s different way of thinking, speaking, acting, interacting with the world… it’s a very different ballgame from the old-school of build a ‘better mousetrap’ management…

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According to Bob Ford; better mousetraps are built every day, but waiting for the world to line up at the door is just wishful thinking… Introducing step-change innovation is much more than just technology itself; it involves establishing a compelling vision that encourages people to get on board… and for many businesses the status quo prevails and innovation never gets a chance… The mousetrap way of thinking has at least two severely limiting assumptions: First, it assumes that the answer can only be found within just the technology… Second, it defines goals in terms of the solution (‘how’) rather than in terms of the consumer needs (‘what’).  This way of thinking is an obstacle to the development of newer, better, more effective… ways to meet consumers’ needs. In fact, it often doesn’t meet the consumer’s needs at all… innovation that starts with analysis of the consumer’s real-life needs (‘what’) can often allow innovators to devise more successful solutions than innovation that starts by assuming a better version of an existing technology (‘how’)…

In the article Myth: Just Build a Better Mousetrap by Steve Denning writes: This isn’t a new style of management– ‘build a better mousetrap’ is indeed old-school. It’s quite different from the ‘radical change management’ being practiced now by truly innovative businesses, for example:

  • First: Building a better mousetrap embodies an inside-out mindset; it means thinking about producing a product from within the firm, rather than thinking outside-in, which is thinking about the people who are going to use the product and what would delight them. The inside-out perspective characterizes the 20th Century thinking, whereas the outside-in represents the shift in power from buyer to seller, which characterizes the new business reality… According to Professor Ranjay Gulati; firms with an inside-out mindset are much less resilient than those that adopted an outside-in mindset, basing everything on understanding customers’ problems, wants, needs…
  • Second: When the goal is producing a product, the management approach tends to be old-school– top-down control management. A product is an output, i.e. a thing. You can set up reliable systems to produce outputs… By contrast, ‘delighting the customer’ is an outcome, not an output… It’s not something that top-down control management is capable of accomplishing. Top-down control management was designed to deliver products efficiently. To generate the outcome of ‘delighted customers’, you need self-organizing teams focused on the customer’s experience…
  • Third: Delighting customers can only be approached by trial and error– work has to be organized in short cycles through dynamic functional linking, rather than through traditional hierarchical bureaucracy, which is used to produce the ‘better mousetrap’, utilizing efficiencies of scale…
  • Fourth: Organizational values have to change. If the goal is simply to build a better mousetrap, the task of management becomes simply that of building it as efficiently as possible… It’s a focus on continuous improvement– In effect, the mousetrap must keep getting better for customers to be delighted… By contrast, ‘delighting’ by focusing on the customer’s needs, experience…
  • Fifth: Communications must change. You can’t delight customers by communicating in top-down commands, which is also dispiriting for employees… You need horizontal adult-to-adult communications.
  • Sixth: Businesses need to be systematically measuring whether customers are, or are not, being delighted and adjusting their actions accordingly.

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In the article If You Build It, Will They Come? by David Power writes: Many growth companies make the mistake of launching new offers before they understand the market… They believe the value of their new offer will be so obvious to customers that all they need is a great engineering team and a predatory sales force and they can race their idea to market. This build it and they will come approach to product development is also known as technology in search of a market. It’s the business equivalent of oil well wildcatting — the high stakes search for oil in unchartered territory. As a business model, it’s terribly capital inefficient… Businesses often confuse new technologies with new markets… The notion of technology in search of a market is an expensive risk that businesses can avoid by answering two simple but enlightening questions: 1) Who is the customer? 2) What business problem do we solve? If a company cannot answer these questions, it may have a technology but not a market. There are two arguments for building a product before validating a market…

  • First-mover advantage: If we don’t launch it now, someone else will emerge as the category leader… This worked for Facebook but not for ESPN’s Mobile Phone, HP ‘s tablet computer, Solyndra’s solar panels, and countless other half-baked new offers… Furthermore, being the first mover guarantee– does not guarantee success…
  • Customers don’t know: Steve Jobs made clear; We don’t do market research. Our goal is to design, develop, and bring to market good products… and we trust, as a consequence that people will like them… Similarly, Henry Ford once said; If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’… Every century we get a genius or two like Ford, Jobs… Unfortunately, most innovators are not as gifted, and there are many more examples of technology in search of a market that fail…

In the article Build a Better Mousetrap by Claude Whitacre writes: Of course, ‘mousetrap’ is a metaphor for a new product, service… I just picked mousetraps because it was catchy… Great marketing is fundamental – imperative for finding out what people want (i.e., what problems they want to solve), analyzing the size of the market (i.e., understanding demand for the solution), understanding competitive forces (i.e., seeing what else is trying to solve the same problems)… Whereas, biggest issue with build a better mousetrap approach are the assumptions, e.g.; there is a market for your better mousetrap, and all the keys are aligned– right market size, competition, timing, price, performance… However, the basic assumptions are counter to a highly innovative and competitive market environment… it’s everything in business, but in reverse order… Some points to watch:

  • Do people really want a better mousetrap? Is there something about the mousetraps sold now that people don’t like? For example, do people get their fingers snapped by the tripping mechanism? Do they hate the idea of picking up a dead mouse to dispose of it? Is it the sight of the dead mouse? The smell? Just the idea of mangling a perfectly innocent mouse?
  • Is the market growing, or shrinking? Are there more people buying mousetraps than last year? If so, you have an opportunity to ride the wave with a slightly cheaper version of the current mousetrap. If number of mousetraps sold every year is sharply declining, is it because there is something better out there? If not, building a better mousetrap, with dwindling demand, is a sure way to failure…
  • Do people really want to kill mice? Would a more accepted product be one that repels mice? How about something that repels mice, and gets rid of the smell (assuming that dead mice smell) at the same time? Is that something people want? How about a way to treat the wood or insulation so that mice hate the taste, and won’t come in at all?

In the article Building a Better Mousetrap by A. Blanton Godfrey writes: Companies that fail to create a competitive advantage definitely face a survival struggle. Just trying to do exactly the same things as the competition, but only a little bit better, is a tough strategy with which to succeed… According to Jack Welch; Innovate or die– In these challenging times, the statement has more relevance than ever… However, we often misunderstand innovation. Far too many people think only product innovation matters, and they forget that we can also be incredibly innovative in production, distribution, marketing, service… Many times I’ve heard people state emphatically: If we don’t come up with new products, we’ll be out of business– What nonsense… Many of the most successful new companies during the past decades haven’t really created new products– just new ways of producing, distributing… those that already exist. Innovation isn’t just about breakthrough thinking and new products– often, it’s simply understanding better ways to produce something, distribute something or make it easier for the customer to use the product… Innovation comes in many forms, but it’s often innovation that drives long-term success…

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Myth of the mousetrap is perhaps the most damaging myth about business: It gives the impression that building a good product or even just a better product than the competition is the majority of what it takes to build a business… According to John Seiffer; that’s just not true; yet the comfort of believing it forces countless businesses to endure the pain of failure despite having a good, great, or superior product… According to David Burkus; the ‘mousetrap myth’ is perhaps, of all the myths of innovation, the most stifling to innovation because it doesn’t concern generating ideas, rather it affects how ideas are implemented. It’s not enough for an organization to have creative people; it must develop a culture that doesn’t reject great ideas. It’s not enough for people to learn how to be more creative; they also need to be persistent through the rejection they might face…

Creative ideas, by definition, are novel and useful but it’s hard to see the usefulness in new ideas when you’re judging them with an old mindset… As leaders, it’s especially important to remember our inherent bias against creativity and make sure when we judge creative ideas, we aren’t using their novelty as an excuse to dismiss their usefulnessAccording to Joseph L. Driscoll; there is so much happening ‘on the inside’ of a business that we forget about what’s happening ‘on the outside’… Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door: In business, nothing could be further from the truth… So, go ahead; build a better mousetrap if you are so inclined, but to build a ‘better business’ remember, Jack Welch’s comment: Innovate or die…