Category Archives: Innovation tips

Weekend innovation tip: Create new products and services using subtractive thinking

subtractive thinking

How do you create new products and services that deliver new value?

Using subtractive thinking by:

Additive

+ Create: Develop by designing from scratch
+ Improve: Build upon by enhancing what already exists

Subtractive

– Reduce: Minimize by taking down to the bare essentials
– Eliminate: Remove by doing away with entirely

Subtractive thinking applies to Business Models, Product Design and Brand Development. Here are some successful examples:

  • Saturn removed negotiations from the car buying experience.
  • Subway removed the traditional kitchen from the fast food restaurant.
  • Netflix removed the storefront from video rentals.
  • Little Caesar’s removed the restaurant from the pizzeria.
  • Apple removed complexity from the user interface.
  • Yellow Tail removed the pretension from selecting wine.

Credit:

Weekend innovation tip: Use the Phoenix checklist to develop an original solution

Keeping a checklist of questions close to you (Moleskine notebook, Evernote) comes in very handy when you need some creative firepower. When presented with a challenge, knowing what to ask is the difference between doing more of the same and doing something extraordinary. was developed by the CIA to encourage agents to look at a challenge from different angles.

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Using Phoenix is like holding your challenge in your hand. You can turn it, look at it from the sides, from underneath, from above, giving you all the angles to arrive at an original solution.

 

Use the Phoenix to !

Weekend innovation tip: Lessons for business from the top 10 good brands

What makes the best brands special? PSFK studied 10 brands and published a report on the The Scorpion King . Below I’ve are some lessons for business from those 10 brands.

 

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GOOGLE.

Experiment rapidly and embrace failure.

APPLE.

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ZIPCAR.

Stop selling products, start selling services.

GOOD MAGAZINE.

Set the agenda and let your customers spread the conversation.

AMAZON.

Identify parts of your business that could be offered as additional services.

FACEBOOK.

Create a playground and let your customers define your offering.

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VIRGIN.

Think big, think small. Amaze customers with your audacity, and please them with your attention to detail.

TWITTER.

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Stay flexible, allow your audience to dictate how your products or services are used.

IKEA.

Take a wider view of the shopping experience, making each step along the path to purchase simpler and more enjoyable.

SKYPE.

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Reach scale with free product, make money from premium services.

Weekend innovation tip: 6 Lateral thinking techniques

As we age, we humans tend to follow familiar patterns of thinking. Using the same method that worked is useful but it has huge disadvantages when trying to create new products or services.

We have a tendency to think in a linear way, following logic, adding incremental improvements to the product or service along a predictable vertical.

Lateral thinking is the art of creating something new out of something existent, you achieve this by manipulating elements in the product or service. Lateral thinking is commonly known as .

Lateral thinking is all about making new connections that aren’t entirely obvious.

Here are 6 lateral thinking techniques you can use to create new ideas, new options and ultimately something new:

 

  • Substitute. Substitution consists in removing one or several elements of the product and changing it.
  • Combine. Combination consists of adding one or several elements to the product or service, maintaining the rest.
  • Invert. Inversion consists on doing or saying the opposite to an element of the product or service.
  • Eliminate. Elimination consists on removing an element of the product or service.
  • Exaggerate. Exaggeration consists on imagining an exaggerated state of your product or service.
  • Reorder. Reordering consists of changing the order or sequence of one or more product or service elements.

 

Here a simple example of how this works using a pizza delivery service:

 

Substitute it. Send hot dogs instead.

Combine it. Send the pizza + lasagna for free.

Invert it. Send the pizza only on certain hours during the week and but on the weekend all day.

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Exaggerate it. Deliver a pizza with double everything and call it extreme pizza.

Reorder it. Customer sends you the ingredients he wants and you make the pizza.

 

Give it a try, you’ll come up with new ideas in no time!

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.

Weekend innovation tip: Obsess about your customer

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One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is thinking they know enough of their customers.

It’s like a website, businesses create it based on the features that want it to have but don’t think about what the actual users want. It’s not about what makes you happy, it’s what makes your customers happy. This is what’s called being customer focused and it’s at the core of .

Obsessing about your customer means you need to ‘get into your customer’s skin’, you must become them and make their frustrations your own. In the online world this means extracting insights from website analytics and tools that let you know what’s happening beyond your website.

In the offline world this means using the . Mix these two together and you have a great way to get deep insights into unarticulated needs.

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Let’s say you have a restaurant and your goal is to improve the overall customer experience. You start by asking yourself:

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How do I make a restaurant better? Where do we start?

You don’t start with the restaurant in mind, you start with your customer.

You start by paying attention to what they say and do in the context of your restaurant. You try testing different things, like a different table and chair arrangement to see how they walk through the space, you look for subtle changes in their behavior and make adjustments.

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Sixty Six dvdrip Journal of a Contract Killer ipod Understand you’ll never really understand your customer. Humans are complex and their preferences change in the most subtle ways, being on the constant lookout and anticipating those changes in needs enables us to create a better This Christmas full College Road Trip video customer experience.

Weekend innovation tip: You’re unlikely to see the future if you’re standing in the mainstream

Innovation and strategic advantage hinge on the ability to anticipate trends and identify the next big thing. You won’t find the next big thing in the mainstream. You need to go to the edge, on the fringe.

Inspiration for new ideas doesn’t come from boardroom meetings, it comes from actively seeking ideas from other industries like design, architecture, pop culture, music and art. You need to go out and do some trend hunting!

When trend hunting in the fringe you need to keep an open mind and a willingness to explore random innovation that might not result in anything worthwhile.

Here then are a few ways to spot new ideas before anyone else:

  • Travel. There’s no doubt that traveling opens your eyes to new things, connecting ideas from other cultures is a weapon innovators wield.
  • Read a lot of everything. Don’t just read what you like, read stuff you wouldn’t normally read. If you read business magazines, read mystery novels. If you read technology books, read political books. Read for breadth and look for connections.
  • Share ideas with others. We’ve all got ideas, we stand a better chance of acting on them if we tell our friends, colleagues and family members about them.
  • Talk to very strange people. Talking to the same usual suspects (friends, coworkers, family) you run the risk of getting caught in the echo chamber. Talk to people whom you have nothing in common with, you’ll always find something interesting.
  • Watch people. Watch your customers. Become them. Obsesses about them.