Make leaps in Innovation, not minor shifts.
Today we focus a lot on making minor improvements to our products or services and while this is great for a certain amount of time, eventually we will have to make a leap in innovation.
Products (and Services) that we make minor improvements on are what we call migrators. They are not settlers where there is basically no improvement, no value increase but they are never pioneers.
Pioneers are where there is a large value leap for the end customer (at a lower cost to themselves).
An important note here is that pioneers are not products that have just technical improvements. Technology by itself does not create a pioneer. Leaps in value to the end customer does.
Chances are that the majority of products and services your company sell are either Settlers or Migrators, not Pioneers.
This may be forced on us because the market shifts or your competitor does a major innovation shift forcing you to follow quickly, or shock horror, someone creates a product that makes your business completely irrelevant!
My point is Companies rarely ever jump the innovation curve.
They sit in their comfortable market space until all of a sudden “BOOM” the market shifts away from them and they are dead in the water.
A great example for you is the original ice harvesters.
They had the market cornered. They would go out in winter, cut massive blocks of ice out of the lakes and rivers and haul them back to their workshop for processing and then shipping out to customers (This was back in the 1800-1830’s when they got started).
It was a burgeoning industry and these companies were making their owners extremely wealthy. But they had one problem, you can only harvest ice in winter, not summer which of course presented a rather large problem which someone eventually solved.
Ice Factories were a leap in value for Customers that Killed the Ice Harvesting Business.
What happened was that in the early 1900’s industrial ice creation was invented and factories were built that spent day and night producing ice to supply the massive demand that existed.
The Fridge Freezer, Another Leap in Customer Value that KILLED The Ice Factories Dead.
Then in 1927 something astounding happened, the personal fridge was invented and the personal freezer was made readily available in 1940.
You can have all the money in the world and go out of business next year if you don’t leap the value curve.
What’s amazing about this is a simple fact that the ice harvesting companies never became the ice creation factories and the ice creation factories did not become the creators of the personal fridge/freezers. They all went out of business as they were replaced by a leap in innovation.
What you have to learn to do, is learn how to look at what products and services you have and how you could make a leap in innovation, a leap in value for your customers at a lower cost than they experience today.
Let your creativity take root and see where it leads.
This ice journey looks a no-brainer with hindsight vision but just think about the industries that have existed today for so long without being entirely supplanted by something else.
If you refuse to look at your industry in this light, it is inevitable you will end up like the ice harvester and the ice manufacturers; broke, out of business and wondering why you no longer have customers.