Former chief evangelist of Apple, co-founder of Alltop.com and innovator Guy Kawasaki offered a number of innovation tips in a keynote address at AVG Technologies Cloud Partner Summit this year. The main tips from Kawasaki's list are outlined, but a number are applicable to those with products already in development, rather than innovation tips from scratch.
- Answer, "What does your product stand for?" - Attach meaning to what you are doing; don't just aim for money. To Kawasaki, money is a by-product of making meaning; if we concentrate on what our product stands for, and the gap in fills in people's lives, then money will follow. So focus on the process, as opposed to the goal.
- Reduce your aim into a short mantra - Lots of businesses now have mission statements, which are meant to affirm what everyone is trying to do, and how they have a common goal. However, don't use long-winded statements; reduce your aims into a short 2 - 3 word mantra. For example, eBay "Democratic Commerce", FedEx "Peace of Mind", and Wendy's "Healthy, fast food".
- Make the leap; worry about quality later - The first iterations of most revolutionary products have been bettered; getting bogged down in quality when innovating is stifling. Try to focus on bringing your innovative ideas to life first, then fashioning them into a better model second. There isn't a perfect time to innovate. The waters of your mind rarely part, and lead you to a perfectly formed idea that will be good to go right away. Give yourself a break, and focus on making "revolutionary jumps", not perfect products.
- Risk polarising people - Please one person, and tread on another's toes. It is difficult to please everybody, and you shouldn't try. The important thing is to make sure there are enough people that do embrace your product; even if this means losing custom or favour from another set of consumers or stakeholders.
- Roll the DICEE - Managed Service Providers (MSPs) should use the acronym "DICEE" to guide their decision-making. DICEE stands for:
These qualities can elevate a product above those of your competitors, by adding meaning and value to the experience.
- Seek customer feedback - Innovation is founded on an understanding of a domain. Without an awareness of how things work, the constraints, the factors that impact on users, consumers' decision-making processes, and other aspects of a domain, it is extremely difficult to develop ideas that satisfy a need. MSPs should be motivated to find ways of gaining an understanding of their customers/users and connecting with them in novel ways.
- Don't be afraid to fill a niche - In terms of products, uniqueness can often be a positive quality, but it can also drive it into a very narrow niche. However, according to Kawasaki, you shouldn't be afraid to place your product into a specific niche; if there is a consumer need, then occupying a niche can help MSPs satisfy their customers and improve business as a result.
- Pitching: Use the 10-20-30 Rule - Kawasaki stated that innovators and team leaders should use the 10-20-rule when pitching, which means: use 10 slides, for a 20-minute presentation, with a 30-point font. The pitch can be an exciting and terrifying experience, but make sure you assist the audience, show them what they need to see, and provide them with something unique that will make it a memorable, and positive experience to take away.
The idea of innovation tips is all well and good, but unless we take the time to learn about people, things, products, and the world in general, we are lacking the basic tools of thinking, which is the birthplace of all ideas. Break the monotony of your usual schedule and try to see things in a different way, but try not to focus too intently on the rules, laws, guidelines, and lists of tips that claim to show you the way to innovative and revolutionary products; these come from you, and they are difficult to hurry.
Guy Kawasaki's 5 Innovation Tips, Open Forum
Guy Kawasaki: 10 Tips to Master the Art of Innovation, Dan Kobialka
Fast Company (link to image)
TEDxBerkeley (link to video)