We always talk about innovation. It is everywhere and everybody wants to be innovative. To get a better understanding of the dynamics of innovation, the Meetup Group Barcelona Internet Startups invited Eric Reiss to share his view on innovation versus best practice. Are they like oil and water or complementary to one another? He has 6 laws of innovation to provide some insight.
First of all, it is a pleasure to hear Eric talk. He is a funny, inspiring and interactive speaker that can share insight about lots of topics in the business, more specifically advertising world. He does not give a presentation, he provides the audience with an almost standup comedian show: complete with different characters and voices.
In order to talk about innovation, it is important to have the right definition. Definitions differ a lot. From the introduction of something new: an idea, method or device to a long term strategy to solve problems being achieved after a period of experimentation. Reiss stresses the importance of innovating for the right reasons: the only reason to innovate is to solve a real problem. Having said that, it should be easy to explain the ‘why’ of an innovation: the one and only unique selling point (USP). Note that the “U” stands for unique: there can only be one. So if you’re advocate of innovation, don’t sum up a dozen of so called a ‘unique’ aspects, that’s a contradiction.
To help navigate through the jungle of invention, iteration and innovation, Reiss designed 6 Laws of Innovation:
- Law #1: if an innovation does not solve a problem, it is creating one.
Problems may arise in 3 different fields: technical, social and political. Make sure that when working on a solution you have an answer for potential problems in all three. In the end you want to say: “my problem is greater than the combined efforts needed to solve it.”
- Law #2: problems do not exist in isolation, solutions have unexpected consequences.
- Law #3: invention may be accidental. Innovation is always a planned activity to solve a real problem
- Law #4: Innovators often break the rules, but also understand the rules.
They know how to do it. This is the difference between innovation and idiocy. You need to understand your craft and the forces guiding it.
- Law #5: intuitive solutions don’t necessarily need instructions
Know that unhappy customers are dangerous. Due to social media it can last for a long time for those bad comments to disappear. Reiss suggest to apply user-driven design: invite the customer to participate. In other words, co-create and crowd source.
- Law #6: innovation almost always represents the combination of two well-known technologies and put them together. An example of this is the Zipbud: a new kind of earphones with zipper integrated cabling that will prevent you from experiencing the infamous and annoying tangled headphone cords. If you spot such an opportunity, you can make real money.
Another important concept to distinguish is the difference between strategy and tactics. Eric Reiss uses the army to explain this:
- Strategy: the General says “we are going to take that hill”
- Tactics: the Sergeant says: “tall soldiers behind trees, fat soldiers behind rocks”
And here comes the essence of innovation and best practice. Innovation is about having a strategy, a future outlook to solve a problem. Best practices are about commonalities to tackle the encountered obstacles. The tactics you use to represent short term solutions, which often might be standardized.
In search of excellence the innovation life cycle relates both concepts. You go from invention, through innovation, reaching the hill with best practice. But be careful for the pitfalls: habit and fashion. When they occur around you, it is time for a new disruptive innovation to happen.
Are you curious about what Eric Reiss can teach you? Do you have questions related to meta data, web design and architecture? This Saturday, Eric will be hosting a workshop on usability, especially tailored at startups to help you create better products and services. Click here to subscribe.
Not able to go? Reiss has a tip to improve your search results when searching for specific facts: type in the answer in “quotes” instead of the question. Hence, not when did xx happen, but “xx happened in”. Give it a try; it will make your Google search easier and faster.
Quote of the day: “Entrepreneurs make wonderful things happen.”
Image credits: Geekalerts