Innovation Needs Inspiration
Every August, I host an annual event for about 600 people, discussing tech and innovation. This event has been going on for more than decade and I’ve been hosting it 4 years now. The challenge is how do you keep an event – or any creative endeavor fresh and interesting??
One common approach is to go out and “copy” what others are doing such as “make it just be like TED”. I’ve been going to the main TED event for years and even they are challenged to change it up. Repetition is boring.
The world changes and your ideas/innovations need to change with it. We all get caught in the rut and we tell ourselves it worked for us “last time” it will work for us next time. Experience is not always a good thing. That is until it doesn’t work. Then what?
How do you push yourself to constantly be looking for ideas?
In my personal example, every two to three years, I go on a month-long “trend safari” in search of inspiration. I typically pick 3 to 4 events that are outside of my industry with the objective of coming back and share what inspired me.
Some events I’ve gone to …
- Milan Furniture Fair (April)
- London Design Festival (Sept)
- Paris Fashion Week
- TED (March – Vancouver)
- Detroit Auto Show
- Maker Faire (May in San Francisco)
- Comic-con .. (july – San Diego)
Now that I’ve been talking about it, I think its time to put together another on one again! I’ve always enjoyed it more when a few people are with me. Maybe I should setup a “trend safari” for a group. What do you think? Do you want to go with me?
Guest: Noah Scalin
Noah Scalin is an artist and activist. He founded the art & consulting firm Another Limited Rebellion in 2001 with the idea that he could make a living doing what he enjoyed and effect positive change in the world. He has authored five books on design and creativity and traveled the world bringing his message of creative potential and design activism to everyone from incarcerated teenagers to Fortune 500 executives. Noah’s artwork is collected internationally and has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries, including the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, and Krause Gallery in NYC. His most recent book Skull-A-Day collects the work of his Webby Award winning yearlong daily art project of the same name.
Brain Hack/Killer Questions
What are your unshakable beliefs about what your customers want?
One thing is to know what your customers want to do, another is to understand how they intend to get it done. It’s easy to look at their goals and tell yourself that your product will match their needs. Most organizations make major assumptions about what the customers want … they become “unshakable beliefs”. Competing companies can have the same “unshakable beliefs” but radically different strategies about how to achieve them.
Example — Airbus and Boeing.
Both companies brought new long-range aircraft to market at more or less the same time. However, their respective offerings, the A380 and the 787 Dreamliner reflect radically different ideas of how airlines will meet the needs and desires of their passengers.
Same objectives: Both companies understand the bottom line in their industry, getting CASM—cost per available seat mile—as low as possible. Both claim that their aircrafts are highly fuel-efficient. Each also uses radically new technologies. The 787 is made of lightweight and high-durability materials The A380 boasts new integrated avionics systems
However, the A380 and the 787 reflect completely different philosophies about how passengers will get from one destination to the other.
The A380 is a hub-to-hub aircraft. Its size limits the airports it can service. Yes to London Heathrow, Los Angeles International, and Singapore’s Changi Airport. No to Cleveland or Oslo or Fort Lauderdale.
Boeing is betting the other way. The 787 is small and nimble enough to service second-tier cities, yet its fuel efficiency allows it to function as a long-range aircraft.
Airbus and Boeing both asked themselves the same Killer Question:
What are our unshakable beliefs about what our customers want?
Yet they veered off in radically different directions based on what they believed their customers’ needs and wants were.
The jury is out on who made the better bet, but my gut instinct is that both companies will struggle before eventually finding sufficient market share to justify their gamble. Innovation isn’t always about beating your competitors.