Innovation is everywhere. Want to understand it better? Just look around.
Frito-Lay got headline attention when it announced that 50% of its product line for 2011 will be made from all natural ingredients.
Innovators get our attention.
Secondmarket helps buyers and sellers transact illiquid, restricted, and alternative investments. It is the answer to an obvious and significant need.
Go to Vibram’s Five Fingers running shoes. Once you see them, you’ll most likely think, “Of course! Why hasn’t that been tried before?”
Ski lift technology can use magnets on the back of lift chairs to keep kids snug and safe on the ride up the mountain. The magnet releases the mini skiers at the top. It is a simple idea that makes ski lifts safer.
Ford plans to be the first auto manufacturer to put engine on/off technology in its vehicles. This feature turns vehicles off at stoplights and restarts them when the driver presses the accelerator. It can result in a fuel savings of 4-10%. With gas prices in the daily headlines, this should be well received by car buyers.
My friend Robert Tucker of The Innovation Resource Group believes technology is an essential core competency that every organization and individual must possess for ongoing success. Yet the perception persists that innovation is difficult to do.
Extraordinary innovation is indeed challenging, but anyone can become more innovative.
It begins, like everything, with awareness. It isn’t enough to notice what innovative individuals and companies are doing; ask yourself why they’re doing it and how.
To be strategic, innovation needs to improve or enhance, be valued by the user and be profitable for the provider. Innovation for innovation’s sake might be fun, but few have the time and resources to pursue it.
An easy starting question is: “What do our existing or potential customers want that they’re not getting?” It is easier to meet an existing need than to create a need. That seems to be the question Secondmarket asked.
Another question: “What little change would make a big difference?” Start small, and pick the low hanging fruit. Your colleagues are constantly talking about how much better things would be internally and for customers. Start listening to what they’re saying and act on it.
Here’s a question for the bold: “What innovation would be a game-changer in our market space?” You don’t even have to be the first with the idea if you’re the first to implement it. The idea of on/off engine technology has been bantered for several years. Ford decided to stop considering it and start doing it.
Start paying attention, asking questions and taking strategic action. Treat innovation as s a competitive advantage and opportunity in the coming year.