Crappy innovations make way for better innovations

Games. Mobile. Happiness.

All three words are interconnected today. Over the weekend I read a fascinating article on the NYTimes about our addiction to Angry Birds, Zynga and other ‘Stupid Games’.

These so called stupid games are considered innovative because they’ve made gaming accessible to casual gamers. People who never sat down and used a controller to play games on a console, are know playing low-skill games on their mobile phones while waiting in lines at the bank, while on the bus, while seated on first-class, while having a conversation with a friend.

Pretty much everyone is a gamer today.

This addiction to stupid games has been going on for a while now. And what we are learning, is how bored people really are. How un-engaged we are with activities that matter.

We are also learning that what makes games engaging, game mechanics, can also be used in other domains.

And this is an opportunity. Why? Because it’s a behavior we’ve taken for granted. It’s an opportunity to re-imagine how activities that matter, like our work, can become more meaningful through the use of game mechanics.

This is exactly what some pioneering people like, Jane McGonigal, are arguing: The future of work is play.

In the video below, the CEO of Undercurrent and author of ‘Game Frame’ talks about how to make life more interesting and engaging through the use of game mechanics. Watch it!

Innovation is in The Eye of the Beholder

The point is that an innovation (mobile gaming) can open up a new can of worms because new behaviors emerge. Behaviors that were hidden under our noses are suddenly made obvious (people are bored).

Incumbent companies will rarely explore these changes because they’ll look at it as a complete waste of their time. How can I monetize something that is yet to be defined?

Exactly!

Where some see crap others see opportunity

Some of you might look at games as a complete waste of time. Why should you care that people are suddenly wasting time playing games? Because it implies a change in behavior. And a change in behavior then leads to a change in business models, marketing, strategy, operations, etc, etc.

The key is to ask “why”.

Just to put this in perspective, Gartner says that by 2015, more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will Gamify those processes. Remember that the pace of concept testing is accelerating and we are making more smart mistakes at a faster pace. Gamification is real, it is not a hoax.

We are living in a day where known behaviors are being reinvented (pinning) and people are doing things they’ve never done before (playing games), we have to look beyond the obvious.

The future is not yet defined, we have to define it.

Ideas breed other ideas. Some ideas will look like crap. But these ideas most likely will lead to new insights. Insights beget more insights. This is how innovation begins.

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