Tag Archives: Innovation tips

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.

Weekend innovation tip: competitive advantage is temporary

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To stay relevant in a competitive world, we must act as though today’s advantage will be gone tomorrow.

Everybody wants to be the player that has it all figured out, the one that stays competitive in changing times, the one that stays ahead of the game and redefines the game for everyone else.

These players are rare!

Weekend innovation tip: Have a point of view about the future

How often do you either read or have an insightful conversation that makes you think and question your assumptions about the future? No often I’ll assume.

Why is this?

Because more people have a chance to express their ideas to the world but most of it is worthless blabber!

Don’t get me wrong, the fact millions of people can communicate their ideas through a blog, Twitter, Facebook and such is great for society. The problem is that there is a lot of repetition and old ideas get amplified.

The only thing different is the name of the person who said it and how the message was packaged.

Repeating the same stuff is easy because there’s no real thinking involved and blending in easier that standing out.

The fact is most people stand for nothing more than more of the same!

The quest of any innovator is to stand out from the crowd and the way to do that is to have your own point of view of the future. A unique of view of how things could be better or different (we definitely know the future is going to be different) is like a light in the fog, it points the way to a clear view.

Any individual who has a well developed point of view about an opportunity is like a beacon pointing to the sky that attracts people to his ideas.

To start building our point of view we can start by asking ourselves some questions about what might the future hold:

  • What is changing in the world?
  • What does it mean for others?
  • What does it mean for us?
  • What do we want to happen?
  • What opportunities do these changes make possible?
  • What do we have to do to play a role?
  • What new business concepts could exploit these changes?
  • What do we do next?

Innovation is what distinguishes between a leader and a follower. If you can’t create a sense of future, no one can follow you.

Weekend innovation tip: what made you great in the past will not make you great in the future

Your business will fundamentally look different tomorrow than it does today. Don’t believe me? Look at the newspapers business, the digital music business, the airline business, the auto sales business, we can go on and on.

Your only option for survival is to innovate, to recreate yourself and your business.

The Hazing film But before you innovate you have to accept that what made you successful in the past, will not make you successful in the future.

You have to stop fighting the last war. Consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react to the present moment.

Redemption: A Mile from Hell movie download Key takeaway:

Never take it for granted that your last successes will continue into the the future. Actually, your past successes are your biggest obstacle: every battle, every war, is different, and you cannot assume that what worked before will work today. You must cut yourself lose from the past and open your eyes to the present. 

Weekend innovation tip: Look beyond the ordinary

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True innovators are never bound by what is; instead they imagine what could be.

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UPDATE: Scientific American has just posted an article on how imagining an alternative future enhances your creative ability.

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