Successful innovation is about being able to disrupt the future.
Author and technology and innovation pro Daniel Burrus published a post last month called “Forget Agile and Lean—It’s Time to Be Anticipatory.” He writes:
“To thrive in this new age of hyper-change and growing uncertainty, it is now an imperative to learn a new competency—how to accurately anticipate the future.”
I look at it slightly differently. Success doesn’t come when you anticipate the future per se, it comes when you disrupt it and innovate (or take a performance hacking approach to it, if you will). But either way you slice it, you’re going to take some chances. Around here, we build monitoring tools, which means we’re creating things within an existing market where every player in the game claims to have great technology. For us, the answer lies in predictable innovation, made possible when a product falls into one of three categories:
- A successful product is tweaked in a way that expands its user base.
- The price becomes affordable to a wider demographic.
- The company moves to a new, likely larger market and changes their target audience.
All of these scenarios start with something successful that’s in need of some tweaks, but take the solution one step further, giving people something even better than what they asked for. Tried-and-true examples: Henry Ford and his Model T and the Macintosh computer. Both of these have four key performance hacking principles in common:
- They defined a new level of simplicity within an existing market.
- They were affordable to a wide audience of buyers.
- They chose to innovate in a way that overcame well-known flaws in an existing product—and then innovated some more.
- Their product could be sold in a scalable B2B and B2C business model.
Truth is, you don’t have to be the greatest inventor to build a new, disruptive business model. Here’s how we applied these principles to ruxit:
- We wanted to sell to both hardcore operations people and the non-hardcore operations crowd, so we built something accessible to all that didn’t require training to use.
- Smaller companies have smaller budgets, and enterprise tools require a larger up-front budget, so we created a scalable pricing model that allows everyone to start small and pay for what they need. Instant audience expansion.
- Henry Ford’s famous quote, “if I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse,” still stands true today. If we only responded to what users didn’t like about a tool instead of creating something totally new, we’d be missing out on a bigger market. Another perk to targeting a fresh crop of users? Far more forgiving feedback. Try updating a product and seeing what your regular users say. There are bound to be several complaints that their “favorite feature” is no longer available.
What do you think? To innovate, do you need to anticipate the future, disrupt it, or a bit of both?