Tag Archives: business innovation

Succeed in Business– Build Better Mousetrap: Hugh Myth– Being Better Is Not Good Enough Anymore…

Ah: Build a better mouse-trap; not a ‘different mouse-trap’, but a ‘better mouse trap’… But; What does ‘better’ mean? According to Seth Godin; this is a hard lesson for marketing and business development people to learn– they don’t get to decide what’s better, the customer does! If you look at the decisions made about– features, benefits, pricing… how many of them are obviously ‘better’ and how many people might disagree? Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door is one of the most quoted innovation credo: Yet it’s a myth…

Innovation experts call this the ‘better mousetrap fallacy’, because the credo focuses solely on technology and not on consumers… Consumers really don’t really care about a better mousetrap; they care about fewer mice… According to Ted Levitt; consumers don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole. But many organizations still seem to take this credo literally…

Even though it’s can damage the business– it gives the impression that building ‘better’ things is all that it takes to build a successful business… According to John Seiffer; it’s just not true, yet the comfort of believing it forces countless organizations to endure pain of failure despite having something better. So yes build ‘better’ mousetrap if so inclined, but if you are looking to build successful organization: Innovate or Die…

In the article Build Better Mousetrap by Corbett Barr writes: It’s a trap many organizations fall into: They believe that if they just come up with the elusive ‘better’ mousetrap, i.e.; product, service, widget, app… then they can build a successful organization… But just being ‘better’ will not get customers beating a path to your door… There are few big problems with idea of ‘better’: First, ‘better’ is worthless on its own– its only a multiplier of execution– it needs entire value support system…

Second, ‘better’ is rarely new: Often what you think is ‘better’ isn’t really ‘better’ at all… Your ‘better’ may have actually led others with the same definition of ‘better’ down a path to failure… Hence the issue is not ‘better’, but ‘different’ like innovative– and it does not necessarily have to be completely your own original idea. It’s what you ‘add’ and ‘do’ that makes you ‘better’; different, unique, relevant, valued…

In the article Myth: Just Build Better Mousetrap by Steve Denning writes: Most people know the saying; build ‘better’ mousetrap. Its become quite a popular maxim. It’s a catchy line but it’s really bad advice and can be a disaster for organizations that follows its logic:

  • Building ‘better’ mousetrap embodies an ‘inside-out’ mindset: It means that your thinking is oriented from ‘inside-out’, rather than from ‘outside-in’ the organization… The ‘inside-out’ perspective characterizes the 20th Century thinking, whereas the ‘outside-in’ represents the shift in power from seller-to-buyer and characterizes the new business reality… According to Professor Ranjay Gulati; firms with an ‘inside-out’ mindset are much less resilient than those that adopt an ‘outside-in’ mindset… The logic is simple; know and understand the customer, rather than just guessing…
  • Building ‘better’ mousetrap is a continuous improvement mindset: It means the task of management is simply to focus on efficiency and continuous improvement. In effect, the mousetrap must keep getting better for customers to be delighted… But there are limits to ‘better’, and at some point ‘better’ becomes obsolete… Hence, organizations must move beyond continuous improvement and beyond just making things better… They must do things different by disrupting the value of ‘better’ through innovation…

In the article Build Better Mousetrap by Claude Whitacre writes: Build a better’ mousetrap is metaphor for; an organization knows what customers want better than customers themselves… an organization knows how to delight customers better than customers themselves…  The ‘better’ mousetrap approach makes the assumptions that key factors are aligned– customer expectation, competitive advantage, valued-added, price/performance…

However, in a highly disruptive and innovative market environment, basic assumptions may not be correct, e.g.; Do consumers really want ‘better’ mousetrap? Is the mousetrap market growing or shrinking? Do consumers still want to trap mice? A credo built into ‘better mousetrap’ scenario is– technology in search of market. The notion of technology alone is ‘better’ can be expensive risk that an organization can avoid by answering few simple questions: Who is the customer? What is the problem to be solved? How big is the market? What is the added value? What support and service do customer expect?

The notion that an organization can offer same, or nearly the same, thing as competition but only a little bit ‘better’ is a tough strategy and it will definitely face a struggle to survive. According to Robert E. Johnston; when challenged to build ‘better’ mousetrap the typically approach is to find ways to make it– stronger, lighter, quieter, faster, cheaper, nicer design, less visible… among other obvious low-hanging improvements. This approach, done well, will produce incremental innovation, but seldom anything more...

However, it’s interesting to observe that when organizations are challenged to imagine beyond non-incremental (beyond ‘better’) to breakthrough innovation, it seems that many organizations often just start with the safety that comes from something that they know and already works. Hence the logic is very straight forward, e.g.; since this new innovative idea’s is already proven to be feasible, all the organization need to do is innovate new value into something that is already known, proven…

The logic is simple, less risk, good to go: Right? Yes perhaps, if what you are looking for is just incremental or modest innovation… But if objective is inflict major disruption in market(s), then a more disruptive non-incremental innovative (or breakthrough) approach is required– but initially its feasibility may be in question… It’s easier to build feasibility into innovation, than to build innovation into feasibilityHence, the biggest challenge in a highly competitive disruptive market environment is to breakthrough existing mindset of how something is currently conceived, and embrace ideas that are more innovative than feasible…

Edge of Craziness: To Win Big in Business It Helps To Be– Little Nutty, Touch of Madness, Dash Hypomania.

Think craziness with a dash of hypomania… Hypomania is a mild form of mania… hypomanics are people who are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence, really big ideas… They think, talk, move, make decisions quickly… They live on the edge, between normal and abnormal… According to Rich Karlgaard; they are filled with energy; flooded with ideas; driven, restless, unable to keep still… they channel energy into the achievement of wildly grand ambitions. They are risk- takers, impulsive,  fast-talking, witty, gregarious, charismatic and persuasive… They are prone to feel persecuted when others don’t accept their vision, mission… Does this sounds like you? If yes, you are destined for greatness…

Craziness in business can be a game plan for game changers… It’s an age of disruption. You cannot 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– different… The most successful organizations don’t just out-compete rivals– they redefine terms of competition by embracing ‘one-of-kind’ ideas in a world filled with too much ‘me-to’ thinking. The business world is full of organizations that have made it big by– deviating from the usual, thinking different, being just a little hypomania…

In the article Craziness in Business by Jason writes: Needless to say people come up with a lot of crazy business ideas in some strange places, e.g.; in the car, in the shower, heck even in sleep… About 95% of them are complete and total garbage but the other 5% have a small shot at becoming something worth acting on… But how do you know which is the ‘home run’ or ‘dud’? Ask few questions, if the answer is ‘yes’ to all of them, then roll-up your sleeves and make it happen!

  • Does the idea solve a problem or desire? Necessity is the mother of invention. Ideas that are born out of need and/or desire– come complete with a built-in demand…
  • Is the idea executable? Think through how an idea is going to work. Do you have resources? Do you have passion, time, investment… to make it successful? Challenge yourself and get specific…
  • Is the idea marketable? Best business ideas market themselves: They have the ‘wow’ factor, or something that’s going to ‘turn heads’… When it’s  a different (more valued) mouse trap…
  • Does the idea have a shelf life? It might seem like a good idea today, but will it be a good idea in six months or five years? Think hard about where the ‘market’ is now, and where it might be headed. Will the idea still relevant down the road?
  • Is the value of the idea worth the investment? Crazy ideas can be– crazy smart, or crazy waste of time… Does the idea bring enough value to the customer, and can you make money?

A little ‘madness’ is the difference-maker in business– it creates the improbable, it makes something out of nothing, it enables leaps into the unknown. According to Barry J. Moltz; if a person is perfectly sane and follows all the ‘safe’ business rules they probably won’t do anything crazy, ridiculous… According to Brendan Boyle; innovation is right on edge of ridiculousness…

In the article Build A Disruptive Organization by Andreas von der Heydt writes: Disruption is king… It’s obvious that the old guard organizations in most industries are being challenged by countless number of cutting-edge disruption… But how can an organization become disruptive, how can you align an organization to be the leader in their industry? In general there are three options for a disruptive and visionary game changer:

First, develop your own disruptive business model… Second, further develop your existing business model in your current industry and/or in adjacent industries and categories… Third, take your existing business model and apply it to (completely) different industries… This is the deployment of existing and proven principles in other markets and industries, e.g.; Apple, Google, Amazon… and other organizations have done it and are doing it… The key is to find different, innovative ways to excite customers, replace outdated paradigms, strategies… The following principles might be useful:

  • Understand your business, evaluate and specify current business model: It’s an obvious starting point. But many organization just don’t do it…
  • Evaluate where your customers, markets, industry… might evolve to in 5 – 10 years… Will your existing organization and associated products still fit?
  • Become a disruptor— even a self-disruptor– and take the lead… In this digital age, the traditional first-mover vs. follower still has a powerful advantage…
  • Broaden your scope and imagine the impossible… Look outside of your current thinking patterns, explore different markets and industries… Think without ‘limits’…
  • Replace cautiousness with bold, strategic thinking… Disruptive strategies are driven by speed, audacity, craziness… Apply a long-term perspective, resist short-term investors and management…

The lesson is simple– it’s not good enough anymore to be ‘pretty good’ at anything… The most successful organizations figure out how to be ‘most’ in their field; most elegant, most simple, most exclusive, most affordable, most seamless global, most intensely local… For decades, many leaders have gotten comfortable with strategies, practices… that kept organizations in ‘middle of road’– it’s where things are safe, secure… But today with so much change, so much pressure, so much disruption… ‘middle of road’ strategy is the ‘end of road’…

Having a little craziness, a touch of hypomania… is an imperative for an organization to survive and thrive in this digital age… According to Joe Wilcox: it’s not about goals, it’s about pushing the boundaries, discovery, innovation… finding different ways of doing business to stay ahead of the pack… But it requires commitment to disruption, and a willingness to challenge established conventions…

But unfortunately these characteristics remains all-too-rare in many organizations, precisely because it can look– little nutty, crazy, strange, hypomania… Hence, next time you come across some weird business idea, don’t just push it away, think it over… it might be the billion dollar opportunity waiting to happen…

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 marketIt’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, 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 usefulness

According 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…

Shifting S-Curve in Business– Sustained Growth thru Reinvent, Transform, Innovate: Shift Your S-Curve– Again, Again, Again…

Shifting your S-curve: Winning in business once is not enough even if you score big you can’t rest on your laurels. You must rack up repeated victories in the market, one right after the other… Otherwise, you become a has-been, just another business that sparkled brightly before flaming out. This has been the fate of many once-successful companies that got to the top but couldn’t stay there. Yet, some organizations do thrive at the top for decades and even longer. They launch one successful business after another, and routinely outperform their rivals…

To make the shift from one market-leading business to the next, successful companies manage growth across multiple fronts… The ability to both climb and shift the S-curve is what separates high performers from those that never manage to translate a brief period of success with a single winning business into a string of business successes… S-curve means the pattern of revenue growth in which a successful business starts small with few customers; grows rapidly as demand for the new offering swells, and eventually peaks and levels off as the market matures.

High performers not only manage to successfully climb the S-curve; as each business performance curve begins to flatten, but more important they quickly shift to the start of the next curve… Making the shift again and again is crucial to sustained business success… The secret to successfully shifting the S-curve is not about what you do at, or near the top of the curve, but what you do to prepare for next shift on the way up… Sustaining a successful business is predicated on understanding and answering two simple questions: Where is your company on current S-curve? Is your company prepared or preparing for the shift to next S-curve?

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In the article Reinvent Your Business by Paul Nunes and Tim Breene write: Companies that successfully reinvent themselves have one trait in common. They tend to broaden their focus beyond the financial S-curve (i.e., revenues) and manage the three much shorter but vitally important hidden S-curves; tracking the basis of competition in their industry, renewing their capabilities, and nurturing a ready supply of talent. In essence, they turn conventional wisdom on its head and learn to focus on fixing what doesn’t yet appear to be broken…

Making a commitment to reinvention before the need is glaringly obvious doesn’t come naturally. Things often look rosiest just before a company heads into decline: Revenues from the current business model are surging, profits are robust, and the company stock commands a hefty premium. But that’s exactly when managers need to take action… In order to position themselves so that they can jump to the next business S-curve, they need to focus on the following: Hidden competition curve. Hidden capabilities curve. Hidden talent curve…

By managing to these hidden curves– as well as keeping focused on the revenue growth S-curve, high performers typically start the reinvention process well before their current businesses begin to slow… To make reinvention possible, companies must supplement their traditional approaches with a parallel strategic process that brings the edges of the market and the edges of the organization to the center. In this ‘edge-centric’ approach, strategy making becomes a permanent activity… An edge-centric strategy allows companies to continually scan the periphery of the market for untapped customer needs or unsolved problems…

Also, high performers recognize that a key to building the capabilities necessary to jump to a new financial S-curve is the early injection of new leadership blood and continual shake-up of top management… Reinvention of a business requires not just nimble top management, but also people who are ready to take on the considerable challenge of getting new businesses off the ground and making them thrive…

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In the article Climbing a Curve: A Big Enough Market Insight by Joost de Haas writes: Companies manage to jump their S-curve not just once but repeatedly, and this requires something we call the ‘big enough market insight’ (BEMI). A BEMI is an insight into the future of a market with enough growth potential to generate substantial revenues– and profit–  for years to come. An insight so powerful that it puts the company way ahead of the competition, at least for a time…

To be a real high performer, it’s not enough to simply win– you must win big… High performance companies are constantly on the lookout for the next BEMI– it could be something entirely new, or it can be a game-changing product or service that totally rewrites the rules of a given market… Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, and many BEMIs look startlingly obvious today, for example; who can imagine today’s consumer world without the Apple iPad or the Nintendo Wii? But these products exist solely because their makers saw real demand for products that did not yet exist.

What makes these companies true high-performance businesses is that they are able to predict a world that ‘would be’, as opposed to a world that ‘could be’, or ‘might be’. What now seems obvious to most people was based on real market insight and an early commitment to an S-curve shift… Our research shows repeatedly that high-performance companies are those that are able to identify BEMI opportunities, and are prepared to exploit those trends well before they occur…

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In the article The S-Curve by Harry S. Dent Jr. writes: One of the great concepts I learned in business school was ‘product life cycle’. Products, technologies, industries go through life cycles just as people do, and business strategies have to change at each stage of the life cycle for a business to continue to grow and dominate its markets.

The S-curve allows businesses to predict the rise-fall of new product life cycles within their market-industry. People have distinct bias to predict trends using straight lines, when growth clearly occurs exponentially– until natural limits set in causing it to taper. These limits, in turn, create cycles of growth and decline. A product life cycle consists of; product market introduction, than growth, maturity and finally decline…

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In my experience; products go from initial commercialization at 0.1% market penetration to 1%, then from 1% to 10% in approximately equal time periods. Each period represents a 10-times growth in market penetration, which is clearly not linear… The higher the costs, e.g., market resistance… the longer the S-curve progression takes. The 0.1% to 10% stage– introduction-initial growth– typically engages consumers who are the early adopters and cutting-edge users.

When products penetrate the critical mass of acceptance the product is more visible and proven– at this stage, products becomes popular-mainstream: (Note: At this point the business must be fully prepared for the next new product cycle, i.e., the next S-curve). As more of the market is penetrated, market saturation or competition might be issues that begin to limit the exponential growth. In this phase, there is from 10% to 50% market penetration, the gains are five times– versus the 10 times in the 0.1% to 10% stage.

Then, from 50% to 90% market penetration gains are only 1.9 times– exponential growth slows. Products then enter maturing or slower growth from 90% to 99.9% penetration… Typically, this phase takes about the same time as 10% to 90% acceleration phase. Finally, the product begins to lose customers, sales, market share… in steady trajectory of decline– the decline phase…

Over the entire product life cycle of; invention, innovation, growth, maturity and decline, 80% of market penetration comes in one stage… The message is clear: Business must have a strategy for each stage of the product life cycle. If the product is just beginning to enter the mainstream– introduction phase– you must aggressively gain market share, quickly… If you don’t fill demand, someone else will. However, if the product is already past the 50% market penetration level, your focus must be very different… For example, observe what is happening with cellular phones, personal computers…

Prices are falling to the point that PCs are now cheap commodities and similarly cell phones are now so commoditized that they are often given away free with new contracts. If the product is this stage, your primary focus must be– control costs, maximize revenues, and aggressively prepare for the next S-curve… Likewise, if the product is in the stage of virtually no growth– 90% to 99.9%– you must act quickly and shift to the next S-curve; ASAP– better late than never…

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There are many reasons why businesses fail, stall, decline… According to Paul Nunes and Tim Breene; companies fail to reinvent themselves because they wait much too long before repairing the deteriorating bulwarks of the company Some companies simply don’t see the end coming, preferring to view slowing revenue growth as the result of a bad economy or an industry slowdown, not as a referendum on their own products or services.

Others don’t recognize how slim their chances for late-stage recovery and change really are and thus fail to muster the urgency needed to jump to a new S-curve… High performers see the shift and create the next basis of competition in their industry even as they exploit an existing business that has not yet peaked… In creating the offerings that will enable them to climb the financial S-curve, high performers invariably create new capabilities…

According to mshaikh; know which S-curve you are on, and where on that S-curve you currently reside. Are you trying to move along an S-curve or shift to a new one? The S-curve provides signposts along a path that, while frequently trod, is not always evident… The hypothesis is that those who can successfully navigate, even harness, the successive cycles of the S-curve will thrive in this era of highly competitive disruption…