in business building

Innovation thieves wanted!

steal inspiration for innovation

Innovation comes in many shapes and sizes. No one says you have to be 100% original all the time. It is virtually impossible. 

While your company and its value proposition are unique, your firm is only one of many solutions to a customer’s problem.

An example: A customer wants to have a nutritious meal after a long day at work. The possible solutions she considers can include: 

  • Take out 
  • Delivery service
  • Going to a restaurant
  • A nutritional shake 
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit
  • Beef-jerky. (Nutritious in protein but less so on other dimensions.)

Customers will consider solutions across categories. What would happen if you approached innovation in the same spirit? Go across categories to find the innovations to suit your business. 

“Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”; Steve Jobs

Here is a structured approach to finding innovation ideas by going across industries

  1. Identify your customer persona’s and their jobs to be done. Select a job-to-be-done.
  2. Identify customer pain points in the current buying process and areas that you perceive to be of opportunity. Use your customer as the lens but do not forget to consider your company’s KPI’s. 
  3. Look to other industries for inspiration on how they execute within the job-process / pain point that you are targeting.  
  4. Bring the inspiration into your offering to re-engineer the experience. Completely redefine or simply choose elements in the current process to re-engineer. 

Following is a made up example: 

Persona and selected job-to-be-done: Male in his early 30s, living in big city, young professional, MBA degree. 

Job-to-be-done: Buying clothes to use in his new job in a technology consulting company in New York City. 

Possible challenges:

  • What to actually buy to fit in, look good and for the clothes to be functionally and emotionally satisfying in the context of the new role. 
  • Example questions of the persona: Is there an official dress code? What do my peers wear? What should I wear to be well dressed? How can I express my own style in this new environment? What is the style for “casual Friday’s”, social occasions, etc? What will I have to wear when at my client’s site? 
  • What should I buy considering my budget?
  •  The shopping experience itself on and off-line: A nice store experience, personal touch and service, going through a timely process, not feeling rushed, feeling comfortable and supported that the clothes looks good, getting good advice on the right size and match, finding things that match, paying and transporting the goods, being ready to wear the clothes immediately after purchase.  

Finding innovation inspiration:

– Starbucks: The pre-order service, the “Barista” (trained expert), the rich product stories, sustainability

– Apple: The store experience, the genius bar concept, the fully charged ready-to-use iPhone

– Netflix: Finding recommendations and managing your entire entertainment suite

– Cirque de Soleil: Create shows that are unique on new dimensions

– Tesla: Giving you WOW experiences, making the impossible possible

Inspiration applied to our imagined clothing brand:

  • Arriving in the store with relevant clothes pre-selected to try on (Starbucks pre-order), 
  • Having clothes dropped off to his house with a 7-day turnaround time for him to try and give it back. (Starbucks pre-order), 
  • Quarterly deliveries of favorite clothes (Starbucks pre-order and profile app),
  • Fashion advice in select locations and via mobile (Apple Genius Bar), 
  • Link your Instagram account and let our fashion experts offer you suggestions and find deals (IT remote monitoring).
  • Live streaming/photos of your closet to our fashionistas. We help you buy and match clothes. (IT Remote monitoring)

I will let you continue my list…. as you can see, once you walk down this path coming up with innovations is easy. 

You need to hone in on servicing a true need. Viability comes next. Then feasibility. 

Conclusion: Innovation need not be hard. Find inspiration where you can. Steal if you must. After all, that is what the best companies do. Just ask Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp…..