Look for synergistic possibilities based on what is
happening in a wide variety of areas such as technology,
science, fashions, psychology, entertainment, and other
industries. Creativity and innovation require that you
constantly monitor many different areas of human progress
Adapting inventions and discoveries from other fields of
business and technology has become a growing source of
innovation. Look at what is being done in medicine: compared
to the operating rooms of just a few years ago, today?s surgical
centers look like science fiction movie sets loaded with cutting
edge electronic equipment, monitors, screens, and other space-
Science explores new frontiers of human knowledge and
potential. Nanotechnology, still in its infancy, is the product of
scientific research. Nanotechnology has the potential to totally
change our world, even to the extent of creating new types of
human beings who are part natural and part artificial. Bionic
humans are no longer fiction but a scientific reality that is
constantly increasing its service to the disabled.
Technology constantly rises to meet new challenges.
When downloading music to computers became the rage,
Apple Computers made the concept totally portable by
developing the Ipod. But, music was not enough; people
wanted movies and TV programs. It wasn?t long before Apple
developed the technology that enabled Ipod users to view
movies and TV programs.
Not long ago, automobile interiors were rather conventional,
mundane arrangements, and all looked very much alike. Take
a look at the interiors of the latest model cars; they are
marvels of design and technology ? and the competition in this
area is really just beginning. In coming years we will see
continued innovation borrowing from fashion and furniture
designs, avionics, and entertainment.
Pull a ?Star Trek?: Go where none have gone before.
You can?t find out what makes products sell or not sell by
just sitting at your desk and staring at a computer screen. Get
out!!! Realize that you are in the experience business; so, go
out and experience the world yourself.
Going beyond the actual products and services, what about the
ways that they are made available to customers? Are there
more ways to get your products and services to your
customers? Even the most outrageous ideas may not be so
outrageous. I understand that in California they have Drive-
thru funeral homes; you can pay your respects as you drive by.
Although others may have gone there before, one place where
you can?t go wrong is the place where the customers go when
they come into contact with your product. Walk in their shoes.
Don?t ask them what they do; do what they do. Find out
your customers experience, what they feel, what they love or
hate about your product, and what could and should be
changed, all by experiencing it yourself.
Personally go to overseas markets where your products are
used, or are not used. Observe how they are being used and
what?s different about it. Where your products are not being
used, find out why and whether there would be a market for
them. But, most important of all, find out what is different
about the people?s needs, feelings, likes, dislikes, and customs,
and how they apply to the use of your product.
And, speaking about going where none have gone before, what
about space? Would your product or service have an
application in space? If you sell camping products, how might
they -- with a few changes -- be helpful in an alien
environment such as a space station, or a lunar base? How
about personal hygiene products for use in weightless
Or, how about recycling systems for space waste? By the way,
if I?m not mistaken, there now is a service that will even send
your ashes into space.
- Explore price ranges where no offerings exist.
Don?t assume that the existing price ranges within your
industry or profession are the limits; take a look below and
above them and ask yourself what kind of product or service
might sell there, whether there would be a market for them,
and how would they have to be sold.
There frequently is a market for different versions of your
product or service at lower and higher prices.
The lower priced version may not need all the bells and
whistles of your standard product, which should lower your
costs. As for the higher priced version, you may have to add
to it, which will raise your cost, but this investment will
definitely pay off if the market responds to the product. Proof?
Look at what Toyota did with the Lexus!
In Mexico there are small companies that are making stripped
down computers that sell for $100 US dollars. They are not
comparable to what is being sold in the richer nations, but they
provide the basics of computing to people who could never
afford more advanced equipment.
And, if you didn?t already know it, would you have believed a
few years ago that there would be women?s purses selling for
$400 and higher?
A few years ago, would you have believed that mega million
dollar condominiums could be sold, and that multimillion dollar
?MacMansions? would start a ?tear down? trend in established
Explore adding a service to a product and a product to a
service. If you are in a service business, ask yourself
what products could your customers use with your service.
Almost every service has the potential of offering products
in some way.
For example, if you are a travel agency, you know that your
clients are going to have to go through security at the airport.
Given the new restrictions on liquids, creams, pastes, etc.,
could you design a kit that carried the right things in the right
proportions that would pass security inspections? If you are a
college, what kinds of kits could you design for first year
students who don?t know what they will and won?t need?
If you sell a product, what services could you offer that
compliment its use? If you sell shoes, could you offer a
breaking-in service for the many people who love the comfort
of old shoes? If you sell apparel, could you offer a training
program that teaches people how to mix and match smart-
looking outfits, or how to coordinate business casual outfits,
and so on? Almost every product has the potential of
offering services in some way.
Plan to beat current innovation time frames. How
long does it take you to change a tire? 15 minutes? If so, then
would changing all four tires would take an hour?
Mathematically, it makes sense.
But in the real world, we go up the learning curve as we do
most things. Therefore, we must assume that while you are
changing the first tire you are also discovering how to do it
faster so that when you advance to the second tire it only takes
you maybe ten minutes, only eight minutes for the third one,
and maybe only seven minutes for the fourth. Result, you will
have changed all four tires in only 40 minutes. (By the
way, at the Indy 500 race track they change all four tires in 12
seconds. Set your goals high even if they don't match the
standards set by the pros - and I'm not talking just about
No matter how long or short a previous innovation took to
create and launch, you should always plan to make the next
one even shorter. Make it a point to develop more efficient
innovation development processes as you go along.