Five or so years ago I met an innovation agency head, ex Senior VP of Marketing of a very well known worldwide consumer brand, for lunch to talk about collaboration opportunities; we initially met through Twitter. The first thing she said to me when we finally met in person was “Congratulations on your Game-Changer brand, I’m very impressed with what you’ve done.”
It’s important that we must make a distinction here, for an engaged employee is not a satisfied employee. The point being that just because companies post pictures and videos of their employees having fun doesn’t mean that they are also satisfied with their work.
This the sixteenth of a series of weekly posts where I will answer a few common questions about innovation. Please feel free to add your own response. Also, if you have any questions you think we should discuss, let me know.
“The better decision maker has at his/her disposal repertoires of possible actions; checklists of things to think about before he acts; and he has mechanisms in his mind to evoke these, and bring these to his conscious attention when the situations for decision arise.” – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate
There are plenty of ways to make better decisions. But what about when you are dealing with complexity (which we all do)? How can you see the essence of anything quickly?…
This is a shout out for B2B companies. The F.B.I. has the list of the 10 Most Wanted Criminals in the World. What if professional services companies had their own 10 Most Wanted Customer List? Heck, why don’t you have one already? Who do you wish to serve?">
Act deliberately crazy and no one will want to compete against you.
If you’ve read The Thirty Six Chinese Stratagems, then you’re familiar with the statement above. Here’s the stratagem if you don’t know it:
Feign madness but keep your balance
Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, he drops his guard. Then you may attack.
I’m a baller, and I can tell which sneaker is good for playing in and why. One of the worst things about modern basketball sneakers is that they still generate a lot of moisture on your feet that makes for an uncomfortable way to play. You really have to get used to playing with moisture on your feet. This problem hasn’t been fixed until now.
The video above is an overview of the new Nike Hyperfuse, which uses mesh technology (the one used on running shoes) to fix the moisture problem. What I want to draw attention to is that the Innovation Kitchen team from Nike got the insight for using mesh technology to reduce moisture after traveling to parts of China and ‘observing’ that some people where playing hoops in running shoes or sandals.
The Hyperfuse is a big hit with NBA players right now (Most of Team USA wore them during the recent World Championships) because it has everything all the other shoes had before it plus the mesh technology that helps the feet breathe.
You would think that an athletic footwear maker like Nike would’ve thought about using running shoe mesh technology on basketball shoes before. They had to travel to the other side of the world to see people playing basketball in sandals and running shoes, not basketball shoes, to get this insight. This why direct observation is so important and focus groups so limited, it’s better to observe people’s behavior because if you ask them outright what they want the don’t really know.
Another thing to remember is that people tend to say ‘that’s the way it is’ and accept products as they are and get used to them. Do you actually think that if they’re used to things being the way they are that they’re actually going to tell you what they want? I know as a basketball player you do all sorts of things to remove the moisture such as changing your socks often so your feet are as dry as possible, yet since we’ve found an alternative and temporary way to dealing with it we don’t stop and ask why?
Somebody else, an outsider, has to notice it; define the problem and find a solution.
Direct observation is one of the most cost effective ways to get new insights, ignore it at your peril.