I am about to tell you how to gain your best chances of innovative design and business innovation success. But first let me tell you a very important story. It is a story about perhaps the greatest innovation of all time. At the very least, that is my position.
Whoever tries the most stuff usually is the winner.
Check out our thoughts on building innovation.
Here is the story of Otto Rohwedder. In 1912, Otto invented a bread slicer. Sounds like a winner, right? Not so fast though. Bakers rejected the innovation out of hand, saying that bread would go stale much faster when sliced.
For most of us that might have been the end of the story, But not for Otto. For the next 13 years, he searched for ways to hold the slices of bread together, including trying a hat pin. Finally in 1927, he found a complimentary partner and together they came up with a bread slicer which sliced and wrapped bread. This was the ultimate solution and within 12 months came the first sale of sliced bread. By 1930, the first commercial machines were put into use by the Wonderbread brand. And amazingly by 1933, 80% of bread was sold pre-sliced. That is an incredible story of innovation, isn’t it?
So what were the lessons that Otto demonstrated in his innovation efforts?
Try many prototypes
Have persistence above all else
Eliminate manual tasks, don’t focus on improving them
Find complementary partners
The end result was a transformed industry and consumer lifestyle. Not too shabby a result was it?
Let’s now go back a bit.
What is innovation?
Innovation is an idea or design put to good use. Does it have to be new? Heavens no. In fact, the best innovations are old ideas from a different domain transferred to a new domain.
From Dan Pink’s Blog, we found the following facts on innovation that we would like to share with you:
A study of the top 50 game changing innovations over a 100 year period showed that nearly 80% of those innovations were sparked by someone whose primary expertise was outside the field in which the innovation breakthrough took place.
Wow! 80% created by someone outside the field where innovation occurred!
Related: Does a Paradox on Innovation Design and Creativity Exist in Business?
What other innovation facts and conclusions can we derive from this?
Why business needs to innovate?
This is a good question to ask Apple or 3M … or maybe IBM, Google, Amazon, IDEO, or hundreds of other businesses seeking innovation for continued competitive advantages. They certainly know why they innovate, don’t you think?
Innovative design … secrets to innovation success
Business innovation success … recognize need to improve
It doesn’t take rocket scientists to realize that the competitive marketplace is definitely not a static environment. To stay ahead of your competition you need to consistently find new products and services … from the innovative process.
Business innovation success … look at things in new ways
Disruptive innovation and change is a process chock full of surprise—failures, successes, unexpected technological advancements, competitive moves, customer feedback, political and regulatory shifts, and other unforeseen events. Most leaders assume surprises always should be avoided. But those who realize that surprises are an inevitable part of business (just like life) are best equipped to actually use surprise as a strategic tool—which makes them the most agile and fastest to respond to or capitalize on unforeseen events.
Business innovation success … connect the disconnected
While we like to think of innovators being lonely men on the mountain, only coming down, like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, to proclaim great revelations, the truth is that important breakthroughs usually come from synthesizing ideas from different domains.
One famous historical example is that of the discovery of genetics. In 1865, when Gregor Mendel published his groundbreaking study of inheritance of characteristics in pea plants, it went nowhere. It took nearly a half century before the concept was combined with Darwin’s natural selection to unleash a torrent of innovations in medicine and science.
Innovative design … commit to innovation culture
How big of a deal is creating an innovative culture for your business? In this blog we highlight important principles of business culture. As you will see, best businesses certainly consider this culture a very big deal. They could be a great way for your business to improve innovation effectiveness.
You need to have the ability to challenge business traditions as often as possible. It’s also important to recognize that culture comes from the people—it is the people. Think about the individuals within your organization—what are their personalities like? Who are they outside of work? What tickles their fancy? All of these things lend to the culture of your organization, and ultimately your products and services.
Problem based on customer input
Zara is one of greatest examples of process innovation. The founder, Armancio Ortega started his business in the year 1975 as a single store in La Coruña (Spain). Ortega, once a tailor’s assistant learned the value of controlling all steps of the production and distribution process, later he applied it all to the Zara chain. And started refining the process steps based on this critical concept.
Every day, store managers report customer feedback information to headquarters, where it is then transmitted to a vast team of in-house designers, who quickly develop new designs and send them to factories to be turned into clothes.
Echevarría said that is because the customer is always determining production — not the other way around. An interesting thought isn’t it?
Every piece of clothing the company makes has, in a way, been requested. A business model that is so closely attuned to the customer does not share the cycle of a financial crisis.
Be constantly open to new ideas
We need to be constantly open to new ideas, particularly in different fields of endeavor.
The secret to innovation and creativity is curiosity. You generate lots of ideas to find the best of the best. By generating ideas you start by asking lots of questions. By being curious. By thinking widely and not discarding ideas too soon. By convergent thinking. All of which help us to better understand and define the problem we are attempting to solve.
Yet, without the question “why?” there can be no here’s how to make it better. Or no game changing innovations.
The bottom line
Our message for businesses is simple. Think more like an innovator. Learn the innovation process. Spend time at the front end on what the marketplace needs, rather than trying to build a slick marketing campaign selling your invention. That is the best way to success.
Innovation isn’t about talking, it’s about the doing. The action. So get moving and begin your journey from accidental innovator to a high performance innovation business leader.
Like anything else, fostering creative business ideas require practice. So exercise and practice this skill and utilize it in as many areas of your business as you can.
Need some help in improving the innovation process for you and your staff? Innovative ideas to help the differentiation with your toughest competitors? Or maybe ways to innovate new products and services?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options for innovation workshops to get noticeable results.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new innovative ideas.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Do you have a lesson about making your innovation learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics that relate to improving the performance of business. Go to Amazon to obtain a copy of his latest book, Exploring New Age Marketing. It focuses on using the best examples to teach new age marketing … lots to learn. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on creativity and innovation from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library: