Can you innovate a mature product? Consider the fishing pole which dates back to the ancient Egyptians - it certainly qualifies as a mature product. This month's LAB will innovate it by using the systematic innovation methodl called Multiplication.
Fishing is the largest sporting activity in the U.S. with 40 million participants, far more than golf or tennis combined, the next two on the list. Recreational fishing generates more than $125 billion in economic output and more than one million American jobs. If sportfishing were a corporation, it would rank above Bank of America or IBM on the Fortune 100 list of largest American companies. The pathway to growth for any large, mature industry is: innovation!
Learning a corporate innovation method begins with formal training, and there is no better place to do that than in graduate businesss school. I am looking foward to meeting the 37 students enrolled in my MBA course at the University of Cincinnati this month. The course, "Applied Marketing Innovation," is a full credit "special topics" course. It is a fusion of Systematic Inventive Thinking and The Big Picture marketing framework. The Syllabus can be downloaded, but here are some details about it:
This course focuses on how to create value and growth through innovation in new and existing markets. Students will learn the skills of innovation and how to apply those skills within the context of a marketing strategy framework. Students will apply innovation methods across the entire marketing management continuum including strategy, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and the 4P’s. The course will be taught using interactive workshop methods and techniques throughout. Students will first experience these facilitation techniques while learning innovation. They will then learn and practice these techniques so that they can apply them routinely throughout their graduate experience and beyond.
An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype after which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. Archetypes put context to a situation. We use archetypes, for example, in marketing. We create brand archetypes to assign a personality to the brand. An example of such a model is shown at right. In political debate, it's useful to understand whether a commentator is an "archetypical democrat" or an "archetypical republican." This helps frame their comments so we know where they are coming from.
Listing to the Voice of Innovation is the same. As I read blogs, interviews, podcasts, and books on innovation, I try to determine the author's innovation archetype so I know where they are coming from. I observe at least four of these.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? I asked this to a group of participants at a recent PDMA workshop, and the results surprised me. Only about half of the participants raised their hand. Many of those had that hesitant look of self-doubt on their face. It's a difficult question. How do you really know if you are an innovator? Is it based on the number of patents you hold? Is it a function of your job title? Is it based on your creative endeavors like music or art? Take this self-assessment to find out. Place a check mark beside the statement you believe is more true. (Click here for a printable version and for scoring instructions.)
At $3 million dollars for a thirty second spot, Super Bowl advertisers need to create the best, most innovative commercials possible. How? Creating innovative TV commercials is more effective when using patterns embedded in other innovative commercials. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them.
The power of the SIT method lies in the fact that inventors, for thousands of years, have embedded five simple patterns into their inventions, usually without knowing it. These patterns are the "DNA" of products that can be extracted and applied to any product or service to create new-to-the-world innovations. Here is an example of an innovator working diligently to create a new innovation in the field of music - called "Music for Shuffle." The inventor, Matthew Irvine Brown, is using the Divison technique to create musical phrases that can be played together in any random order. The phrases interlock with each other to create a continuous stream of music - a song. Listen:
Corporate training is a $60 billion dollar industry and growing as the economy recovers. As with any industry, significant changes are occurring. Companies spend less on fixed internal resources and are outsourcing more. Learners are changing in the way they learn, perhaps due to the generational shift. And of course, technology has made the social side of learning more available and effective. Training executives, those who manage company training resources and programs, must continue to innovate to address these changes to stay relevant.
For this month's LAB, we will apply the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., to a training program. Our goal is to find new-to-the-world concepts that improve a company's training efforts. The method works by applying one of five innovation patterns to components within the training environment. The pattern has the effect of morphing the component into something that seems unrecognizable or ambiguous. We take that "virtual product" and work backwards to uncover potential benefits or markets served, a process called "Function Follows Form."
Great television commercials convey the right message in a creative way. They are memorable. The longer customers remember your commercial, the more cost effective the campaign.
One way to make ads memorable is to make them funny and vivid. The Vividness Effect causes people to recall experiences and images that stand out in their minds. For example, sharks are scary, so they tend to be good choices to create vividness. But just showing sharks in a commercial is not enough. They have to be fused to the core marketing message - the value proposition. That is where you need a structured innovation process to channel the creativity process and regulate your thinking.
Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe eight such tools in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion and 8.Extreme Effort.
Setting prices on new products and services is one of the most challenging roles in marketing. Pricing mistakes are costly, yet it's one of the most tempting tools to use when trying to generate revenues. Fortunately, methods like Value Based Pricing and frameworks like The Big Picture make the job easier.
What if you wanted to explore more innovative ways to set prices? Applying the SIT innovation patterns would create new insights and options. The SIT patterns help break fixedness - the tendency to limit the way we see things to what we know. These patterns are innate to all of us. We just need to "extract" them from within and deploy them in a systematic way.
For this month's LAB, we will apply SIT to pricing. While there are many methods and schools of thought around pricing, the SIT templates should apply to any of them. I would do the following.