The only two ways to innovate are to either find out what people want, and then develop an ingenious way to provide it, or you could provide, and find an ingenious way you could provide it. While both of them have their unique way to get started and succeed, what matters most is your free will.
Here are 5 ways you can achieve either of those to truly become innovative.
- Never Listen to Your Customers
“The customer is right always”, “do listen to your customer’s needs”. One of the things you are taught in business, but is that indefinitely correct?
Among the most recent fundamental findings in psychology is that we do not know what we want, neither do we know why we truly do the things that we usually do. Most of the human conscious reasoning is actually an act of post-rationalization; we do things subconsciously, and then we find plausible explanations for them.
That is why the best thing to know what people truly want, is to experiment with many things and then observe people’s behavior.
Google didn’t simply hand out questionnaires to random strangers asking them if they’d like their idea, they simply went on with it. What was validated was not the idea, but the noticeable need for it.
People will ask then, when should I ask my customers? The only reason why you should listen to your customers is to either gain their trust by hearing their concerns and develop that connection between you and them, or use their feedback for inspiration, but never use their word as an ultimate deciding factor in your decision-making process.
Every one of your customers will have a perfect vision for how your product or service will help them the most, customers always have their best interest in mind first and foremost. You, on the other hand, have a business to run, so who’s voice do you should be the priority?
- Be the Driver of Value, Your Customers the Wheel Behind It
“There is no sensible distinction to be made in a restaurant between the value created by the man who cooks the food and the value created by the man sweeping the floor.” — Ludwig von Mises.
People do not go to a restaurant and the quality of the meal being the determining factor of them enjoying the meal, there are other things that affect what people perceive to be valuable. If you eat a burger that reminds of a person that you love that most recently died, this burger will hold incredible value to you, then someone eating it just to fill up his stomach and prevent hunger. There are also many factors affecting the experience, such as expectations, the scenery, the workers’ friendliness, etc.
We perceive that is which is expensive to be better, which is branded to be more trustworthy, that which is common to be invaluable… Presentation (or simply, Marketing) is key when creating value, not Engineering.
You simply cannot rely on people’s subjective perception of value to produce innovation. Your customers should take you to where value is, but in the end, you should be the one on the steering wheel.
- Leverage the Human Mind, not Behavior
Our minds hate uncertainty. Uber became the company it is today by capitalizing on just that basic fact. Rather than waiting on the street without knowing when your cab is coming, you could simply find where your cab is, and how long it will take to arrive.
Before thinking about actions and what people do when they want to do something, think about the mental processes and checklists that are running when someone wants to achieve something. Flight companies leverage that by showing you the architectural checklist of things you look for when you want to book a flight based on priority: Destination, Time of Booking, passengers and finally, the price of the ticket.
Again, this area of the mind is usually too difficult for most people to tap into, so you cannot rely on people to tell you what they are thinking.
True innovators are the ones that find what people are thinking of and what drives their motivations and actions without them even telling them.
- Simplicity is Key to Success
The simplicity of viewing the time of our fare’s arrival, the simplicity of clicking on keywords to find what we are searching for, the simplicity of swiping away to find the perfect date. Uber, Google, Tinder… What all these innovative companies have in common, is that their offering can easily be used and understood simple.
Most people perceive innovation to be this next-level concept that has to be complex for it to be great. Great innovators are usually people who simply just state the obvious, and make it usable.
If you want to see if your idea is truly innovative, try explaining to a 5th grader. That is the ultimate challenge! If they were able to explain complex technology such as Bitcoin to little kids, surely your idea should not be any less understandable.
The more intuitive your idea is, the easier it will be to market and find acceptance. So, keep an eye out and figure out the simplest form of a solution to a problem.
- The 2-Dimensional Value of Innovation
True innovation isn’t something that is just considered valuable to the customer, it is also valuable to the business.
If you could find a way to present, manufacture or produce something that is existing in the market cheaper than other businesses, you’d have a good business, as you’d win in the price race.
If you could introduce something that is nonexistent and creative in the market, present, manufacture or produces it cheaper than other businesses. You would have an outstanding business, and you will write the rules to your industry standard.
Cirque du Soleil did just that, by not only reducing costs of running the business than other circuses in the industry but also devised a unique way of providing entertainment, by mixing Broadway with the circus.
At times, all you’d have to do is reconstruct or remove an existing element that other mainstream businesses are employing. Southwest Airlines did just that by removing the expensive meals, lounges and other expensive extras when flying and focused solely on speed and customer service to reduce costs and pricing, while other airlines were competing with unnecessary points of value.
If your business idea is innovative to the market, but not relatively innovative to other businesses in your industry, the one who finds a way to make it innovative to the industry will be the last man standing.
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