Today’s product leaders are obsessed with the idea of innovation. It’s in every presentation, at every conference and in every strategic planning meeting. Every company wants “the next iPhone”. Companies want to significantly differentiate themselves from their competitors. Or so they say. I question whether they are really looking to differentiate. When in fact, they are really looking for quick, near term growth?!
I’m often heard saying – if you have to tell people you are innovating than…likely, you aren’t. Innovation isn’t a project. Innovation isn’t an initiative. Innovation is an emotion. It’s the world”s view on how you tackled a particular challenge. It’s the emotion that you generate within your products.
Companies can develop new business model, like Uber. They can create beautiful products, like Apple. Or they can leverage new platforms, like Amazon. Each of these companies leveraged innovative ideas and technologies to catapult themselves into leadership positions. They not only disrupted existing markets, they in the process defined a new market and became the sole player and instant leader. Begs the question, do you think there was a planning meeting that kicked off with “how can we be innovative”? I doubt it.
Likely someone had a brilliant instinct, bit of luck and some good timing. They pitched an idea to a group of friends/co-workers, many laughed, some didn’t get it and enough supported it to take it further.
What do all of these examples have in common? They created a product that has created an undeniable emotion within their customers. Their customers, literally, love their products. They are willing to pay a premium and without batting an eye are willing to evangelize the value that they see in the product.
My suggestion, next time you are summoned to brainstorm innovation, decline it. It will be a waste if time. Rather, consider approaching your next brainstorming with emotions in mind. Think like your customers. What would they love? What far fetched idea would make people love what you’ve built?