Innovation is nothing new and the box can be broken. If an idea or an invention does not fundamentally solve a problem, then it’s just an idea. It is not really an innovation.
the most important currency we have to trade is truly our ideas. However, the value of those ideas is directly related to their ultimate adoption, and that adoption has to be linked to solving a problem.
“meaningful innovation” a business idea must first address a need, improve a process, increase productivity, or make life easier. Adoption of interoperability as a key component of future design.
For starters, the limited resources of the team were both a constraint and an asset.
The common denominator in both cases was that the “boots on the ground” people found a solution by creating an imaginative combination of existing and familiar assets. Regardless of the appeal of an innovation, it will not get traction if it is too expensive, and nothing is more economical than using what you already have.
Principle of The Three E’s: Ecological, Economical and Easy
Uber put existing resources together in a unique way to improve the transportation ecosystem.
The use case for an improved consumer experience bears out the principles of the 3 E’s perfectly. If you build it, they will come, but only if it is economical, you make it easy, and you utilize the existing resources of the ecosystem wisely.
Any industry sitting on excess capacity—possibly your industry—should be on alert. Because here is the most important lesson of all: idle capacity in any form makes your company a sitting duck, simply waiting for disruption.
What they really did was link together existing technology and processes to create a solution that helps women access the fashion ecosystem in a more responsible way by better utilizing an underutilized resource. Looking through the filter of the Principle of the 3 E’s, Rent the Runway is absolutely ecological, it is certainly easy to use, and it is radically economical.
One of the most vital factors for success of the M-Pesa mobile payments system is that it is easy for consumers. Adoption has been rapid and widespread because using these mobile devices is so intuitive. M-Pesa also demonstrates the Ecology Principle in every sense. By taking advantage of previously reused and refurbished mobile devices, this innovation is taking advantage of existing resources. Furthermore, by utilizing existing retail establishments for cash back and deposit services, the M-Pesa currency system takes maximum advantage of what is already there.
Lastly, this innovation took off because it is very economical. The devices themselves are provided for free or at a very nominal cost because the mobile network operator ultimately gains revenue from the airtime utilization.
Innovation is not always about technology; technology is often just the enabler of innovation.
They created a stencil design to cut these boxes in such a way that when they were folded, they formed a school bag to carry books and when the child arrived at school, he or she could unfold the book bag to become a desk! This invention is called the Help Desk, and they are now being used effectively in remote regions to improve the quality of education for many schoolchildren. A discarded box that was destined for the landfill is now both a desk and a book bag. Ecological? Yes, and it fits the use case profile of meaningful innovation theory perfectly. These boxes are also economical, costing less than 20 cents each to manufacture. Now the families of millions of school children are in reach of both a desk and a book bag at that price. Assembly is also incredibly easy. The kids can quickly transform their bag into a desk and at the end of the day reverse the process to carry their books home.
The first secret to making this process work is to optimize collaboration between your people and have the discipline to ask the right questions: 1. The people who invented them 2. When they were invented. Teams of people do great things together. Innovation rarely happens in isolation.
What is your company doing to promote cross-functional and truly diverse idea sharing among your employees? Like-minded energy drives toward homogony. It’s only when we embrace diversity of thought that we can break through to new ideas. Most people need external stimuli to interact with others who are not like-minded.
1. Who are you actually hiring (versus who you are interviewing)?
2. What does your “thought diversity” quotient look like?
3. How diverse are the people who most influence decisions for investing your company’s money?
4. What have you done to create an environment at your company that actively promotes cross-functional yet organic collaboration?
What is available to you today that is either underutilized or can be actively exploited in a new way?
1. What do you have today that is underutilized? How can you combine that with other assets to create something new?
2. Do you actively poll team members not directly on the project or outside the company to see what they know about possible assets?
3. What insights can past endeavors contribute on available tools and technology to solve your problem?
What can you do to make your solution radically economical? The lesson here is obvious: innovation is going to happen in your industry. If you are not looking at radically economical ways to solve problems at your company with the same attitude someone from outside your company would approach them, then sooner or later you will be disrupted.
1. If your competitor wanted to put you out of business, at what price would they market your product or service?
2. How much would someone who knows nothing about your business expect to pay for your product?
3. If profit were no longer a consideration for you, what price would you set for your products?
Are you actively finding solutions that are easy for the ultimate user? It is very hard to make things easy, and it is not simple to keep them from becoming complex.
1. Are the complexities of your solution necessary or is that just the way it has always been done?
2. If you could answer the question “Wouldn’t it be awesome if …,” how might your solution work?
3. What would a person totally unfamiliar with your solution or product say about how easy/hard it is?
To be successful you need to create your innovation by setting aside the rules you know. Very often, companies are solving for a problem that people don’t have, and innovation for the sake of innovation will not meet with mass adoption. As we established previously, innovation must solve a problem or meet a perceived need to be meaningful.
1. What market force motivated you to create this solution? How much will people have to change to adopt your idea?
2. What problem will it solve for your customers today? What about customers tomorrow?
3. What is the perceived need that will cause this solution to reach mass adoption for your ultimate user?
The bottom line is this: with a good business process that supports a culture of collaboration and the discipline to ask the right questions of our people and those outside our company, we can increase the likelihood of success for our future efforts.
Make sure your ideas are easy for users, radically economical, and most important of all, ecological.