Archive for: October, 2009

An innovator is the one who thinks there’s always a better way

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Can you recognize an innovator when you see one? It’s not easy but I’ve always thought that the people who don’t accept the world as it’s presented to them and see better alternatives are innovators, game-changers, creative geniuses, etc.

that equip them to find better ways of doing things, Saul Kaplan from Business Innovation Factory wrote up a brilliant post on the :

 

1. Innovators always think there is a better way.

2. Innovators know that without passion there can be no innovation.

3. Innovators embrace change to a fault.

4. Innovators have a strong point of view but know that they are missing something.

5. Innovators know that innovation is a team sport.

6. Innovators embrace constraints as opportunities.

7. Innovators celebrate their vulnerability.

8. Innovators openly share their ideas and passions expecting to be challenged.

9. Innovators know that the best ideas are in the gray areas between silos.

10. Innovators know that a good story can change the world.

 

In what other ways can we identify innovators?

Your competitive advantage: make people happy

competitive advantage comes from making people happy

A key to implementing a kick-ass business strategy is , this is shifts the rules to your advantage.

One of the most important pillars of any great business is making your customer happy. Yet, it seems to me that businesses are only focused on what they want, but not what their customers want. Profit over brand is a ruling mindset! If you find yourself in a market where this is the case, make it your mission to compete by making your customers happy, and make your competition irrelevant.

Your competitors will be trying to figure your strategy out and since they can’t think of making customers happy as a strategy (it’s not logical?), they won’t be able to compete! They’ll think you’re out of your mind.

What leads to innovation?

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The worlds most recognizable brands where born out of some innovative product or service that created new value for consumers. But what lead them to that specific innovation?

The Branding Strategy Insider came up with a short list of :

 

•    A penchant for experimentation and action over analysis

•    The realization that in many industries, approximately 70% of innovations are developed by users, not the firm bringing the product to market (from research done by Professor Eric von Hippel at MIT)

•    The importance of connectivity. An enterprise has a much higher success rate if it is interconnected with the widest variety of potential idea sources, suppliers, business partners, customers, universities, governmental agencies, etc.

•    Build on your strengths, don’t waste your efforts on hiding or compensating for your weaknesses. Identify your assets and amplify them.

•    Envision the positive outcome that you seek.

•    Be optimistic and constantly work until your optimism is justified.

This is by no means a complete list but in my opinion it’s quite simple. If we were to trace these factors back and look for patterns these would show up in one way or the other.

 

What other factors lead to innovation?

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Weekend innovation tip: Look for innovation across boundaries

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Living in Mexico most of my life I see a lot of people and businesses adopt the ‘imitate to benefit’ syndrome. Where they copy and paste what their competitors do in an attempt to benefit from their success.

This is a flawed strategy!

Following best practices is a sure path to irrelevancy. You’ll only get as far as your competitors goes.

Mexico is very good at copying best practices and then turning them into crap. Commodities as far as the eye can see I like to say! (I’ll write more about this in the future) but, I’ll quote :

 

To not end up a commodity you must defy best practices

 

To differentiate yourself you need to pick apart your business, see where you can differentiate and .

This is outside-industry benchmarking.

Benchmarking is usually done within a company’s own industry, they compare themselves against the best-in-class companies to identify best practices for new processes, methods and tools as well as fresh ideas. This is like looking in the mirror, you’re talking to yourself but nothing out of the ordinary is coming out of your mouth.

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Adapting ideas from other industries is tricky since practices differ and thus requires open minded people but applying some known creative techniques can give you a head start:

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  • Identify a problem area where you want to improve.
  • Identify industries and companies that you could model.
  • Go out on the field and do the research on those companies.
  • Map the insights gathered to your business.

For example if you’re a italian restaurant and want better serve your customers, instead of looking at other restaurants look at other companies who are considered the best at customer service in their respective industries. For example Amazon, Zappos or the Ritz Carlton.

Learn from them, borrow ideas that might be relevant and see how they could be applied to your particular challenge.

 

Key takeaway: The best practices of your industry are already irrelevant, look outside your business or industry for ideas and transform your business.

Must read innovation stories of the week: creating sustainable competitive advantage

How do you win in the marketplace? Seth Godin argues that creating a sustainable competitive advantage can take many forms: own something that’s hard to copy, creating a brand, creating a network where most of the power rests on you, creating switching costs and building a culture that’s innovative.

Must read innovation stories of the week: Everything you need to know about innovation

Innovation is difficult to do. There are numerous books out there about innovation that teach you a certain aspect on how to innovate yet are clearly written for experts.

Richard Watson put together a well written comprehensive article about innovation that any person can understand. Read it, share it with your team, discuss it and accept that if you want to create anything new you’re bound to fail more than a few times.

There is no magic formula!

 

 

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