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Uninnovation: Stuff that sucks is ripe for innovation

crappy scissors

Innovation is about fulfilling needs. And there are common products we use everyday that don’t completely fulfill those needs. Take the scissors in the picture above. They cost me $3 USD and they broke after 10 minutes of use.

No way to fix them because what held them together was a screw through a piece of plastic!

Maybe Office Depot made these scissors for the “less than ten minutes of use” market. Or maybe they didn’t care who or what they are going to be used for. Maybe the said “we don’t need to do 3 million hours of real world testing” to make sure they work under all circumstances like Jawbone did with Up.

Or maybe, like most, they’re not in it to make the best product out there. Which is probably true.

But as I wrote a few weeks ago, common products we’ve been using for a long time are far from perfect. So when people tell me they don’t know what people need, I point to examples like this. Why? Because they are everywhere.

Take note of uninnovation

Among other uses, I use Evernote to collect pictures and notes of stuff that sucks. I do this to remind myself  and others, that everything is ripe for innovation. I call this notebook Uninnovation.

What is uninnovation?

  • Stuff that causes headaches, complaints and just makes you wish you didn’t have to deal with it
  • Stuff that degrades an experience
  • Stuff that isn’t done with humans in mind
  • Stuff that is broken
  • Stuff that could suck because it is left unattended
  • Stuff that could be done better, just like the FedEx example from last week
  • Stuff that isn’t focused on making people/users better
  • Stuff that makes you think: Why do people put up with this crap?!

Plain and simple, uninnovation is stuff that undeniably sucks. It is easy to detect and it is everywhere. No need to be a genius to be able to notice it.

The point: The best innovators, like Apple, are needs seekers. They don’t necessarily notice needs before anyone else. They just fulfill those needs better than anyone else. Get tone and learn to notice needs. Don’t take it for granted that what already exists is perfect in every way. It isn’t.