Innovate or Die – Part 2

Welcome back!  In developing your product or service to be meaningfully unique, you’ll need to leverage three additional points.

Explore Stimulus

Exploring stimulus is a crucial component to the development of new ideas. In typical brainstorming, people make a list of ideas to develop something out of nothing. Imagine if you decided that you wanted to buy a new digital camera. Rather than coming up with a list of features you’d dreamed up, wouldn’t it be easier and more effective if you reviewed different models for the features, benefits, designs and quality to make a decision versus trying to come up with a list of things you think you’d like? Exploring stimulus when developing a new product is the same, where you begin with some building blocks to develop brand new ideas.

Leverage Diversity

Leveraging diversity requires taking different members of your team, even suppliers and vendors, and looking to them to provide new pieces of inspiration. If you only ask one team for their view on a rose, they might all come back saying beauty. Leveraging the diversity can yield different perspectives on the same rose including vitamin c tea, romance and rose water. Bring in different teams and look at what different world views can do for your process.

Drive Out Fear

Drive out fear by applying a system to your innovation process. Deming, who helped Japan rebuild after WWII implemented what we knew in school as the Scientific Method. Plan > Do > Study > Act. Plan what you’re going to do and what you want to test. Do what you’ve planned inexpensively. Study the results. Act on your findings to adjust your idea. A fail fast, fail cheap attitude is best in finding out whether your idea is worth determining that you should continue, you should quit or you should continue but adjust course.

Innovate or Die – Part 1


Recently, Erik and I traveled to the Eureka! Ranch in Cincinnati, Ohio.  You may have never heard of Eureka! but you’ve likely been affected by their innovations; most Americans have interacted with about 18 products or services that were conceived or developed at the Eureka! Ranch, including the Swiffer Sweeper, Nissan Xterra and American Express Centurion Card aka “The Black Card.”

The takeaway from the Ranch was amazing.  Today, you either have to be meaningfully unique or you’d better be cheap.  Meaningfully unique means that your profit margins are 10%+ greater than your industry.  Interestingly, we also found that only 1 in 7 small businesses closes leaving debt, while the other 80% determine it’s just not worth the effort and shut down.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost.  There is a system to affecting change in your organization to become meaningfully unique.  Doing so involves 6 components.

Dramatic Difference

Having a dramatic difference increases your odds of success 3.7x when selling to new customers.  People love buying things that are the “first” or the “only” one of it’s kind.  The iPhone is a perfect example.  The market was flooded with smartphones, but iPhone brought the experience to an entirely new level and has proved to be a tremendous success.

Overt Benefit
How many times do you see a new product with a new polymer, a special stainless steel finish or different battery technology?  We see these too often.  These are features.  People want to see features, but most importantly they want benefits. Having an overt benefit (“the battery lasts a lifetime, you never need a charger!”) makes your sales 3x more effective.  Keep the features as backup.

Real Reason to Believe
If companies followed through on what they said they’d do, this wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, it’s not the case.  When you make fantastic claims, you’d better be ready to back them up.  Was this technology developed by NASA for the astronauts?  Do you have a patent?  These are all real reasons to believe that you can deliver what you promised and they yield a 2x probability of success.

If this is the end of the road with you, be sure to consider the
critical components listed above.  Always ask yourself and your team
“Why should I care?” similar to the way a child would ask.  Ask this
question repeatedly and often, to help get to help you crystallize the most basic value of
your offering.  If you’re interested in learning the remaining 3 components, come back tomorrow for the end!