The 5 Assassins of Innovation
Every company talks about innovation and recognizes the need to be innovative. But then why do so many promising ideas die an untimely death? Let me introduce you to the assassins of innovation who have your next big idea in their crosshairs:
1. Low self-esteem Larry: “We’ll never get away with it. We’re not (insert name of impossibly cool brand).” Don’t be fooled by his self-effacing facade. Larry is one of the most prolific eradicators out there. He strikes early and takes down ideas in their infancy. How to defend yourself against Larry?
Try this: A recent study from Millward Brown found that there was no significant correlation between brand or category involvement and likelihood of viewing and sharing viral video. Think about the most popular viral videos in recent years and the categories they represented: bottled water, a mobile provider and deodorant — not typically the types of things most people get worked up about. Well-executed ideas are what make a brand cool, not the other way around.
2. Benny the Brain: “We don’t have the data.” Benny’s right. Odds are, you won’t have the data to justify a truly innovative effort because data is inherently backward looking. Data can tell you the “what” but not the “why.” Nor is it about asking customers what they want. (Think back to the Henry Ford quote, “If I asked my customers what they want, they simply would have said a faster horse.”) The type of data you really need comes from talking, following and watching your customers to understand their needs, then creating a solution based on that understanding.
3. Practical Paulie: “[Insert name of brilliant idea] is just a fad.” Unlike Benny, Paulie usually has all the numbers at his disposal. For every idea, he’ll have a few stats to prove why it won’t work. The biggest issue with the industry reports and studies he cites is that they're rarely specific to your audience, category or situation. Try turning the tables on Paulie. If 25 percent of mobile phone owners only use an app once, that’s 75 percent who are using it more than once. Innovation is rarely mass adoption; it’s about seeding a new idea, reaching early adopters and gaining traction.