There’s a better way to do it – find it. ~ Edison
I used to believe that too. I was always looking for the big difference, the grand slam of new and original. From market strategies to products to positioning and more, I thought that successful innovation meant being way different and unique from anything else, ever.
Then I learnned that change and innovation don’t have to be that Big Bang. In fact, the best innovation is often subtle and highly-focused on perceived customer value.
The idea that we have to be first to be a market leader, that innovation means the Big Bang, that change is bigtime disruptive and a royal pain-in-the-assets is yesterday’s news.
Small changes can and do drive big results. Here are just a few examples.
Apple and the iPhone. The “big” innovation came in the form of the Palm Treo and the BlackBerry - the first big step toward smart technology. Apple’s innovation was to make those smart phones so much better and easier, with more applications, so that everyone just had to have one. That’s why 1 in 3 people in the US today have an iPhone.
Facebook. They were a follower in the social media space - behind MySpace and others. FaceBook’s innovation was to take social media to the next level by making it work for a broader audience, by building the bigger follow on community. They weren’t the first in the market, Facebook really didn’t create the big bang of social media. FaceBook simply rode the wave to a better way.
Google Maps. MapQuest and Yahoo maps were already in the market. Yet Google maps cleaned their clocks - making them look so out-of-date - all because Google improved on a concept with better usability, more accurate information and, well, the Google name.
A little company called Kayak. Kayak is a search engine. Say what? Just what the world needs, right? Another search engine. Yet Kayak did well enough to go public in the saturated search marketplace. And they grew almost 40% over 2011 in the 2nd quarter of 2012. Kayak didn’t try to be a better search engine for the world. They delivered a better search engine for the travel industry. Their innovation wasn’t a whole new whizbang whatchamafloppy. Their innovation was to make a search capability that was user-friendly, productive and higher value for the travel business. It worked.
The Fast Food Industry. Talk about a really simple example. Traditional fast food was all about grilled, fried, deep fried and, well, fat. When moms said they’d like healthier choices, the industry didn’t dump all of that fat to create amazing new innovation in foods. They adopted healthy foods – salads and fresh options – then applied their fast food delivery methods. Little changes, significant impacts on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Big is not necessarily better.
Many of my clients have powerful value and innovation in place already. Yet these clients are often searching for the Big Bang of change – I call it the Innovation Flash Dance. They’re convinced they need some disruptive, sexy new whizbang innovation to create their success. That’s just not always the case.
Our best opportunity is often less about revolution and more about evolution.
Quite often customers don’t want new and whizbang. In fact, they want less disruption than they’ll experience with that big bang. Simple improvements in the way they do things today can provide even more value tomorrow. Change in the form of efficiency, effectiveness, and ease can bring high value and advantage.
We can all leverage change to create significant advantage. BUt first we have to ditch our training that valuable innovation, like change, has to be painful, big bang and disruptive.
It’s not the size of the innovation that creates breakout success. It’s the benefit you deliver to your buyers that fuels sustainable growth.
Little things matter – big time. What little thing can you do today to make a big impact?