Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The vital importance of removing the "i" from innovation, instinct, intuition, inspiration, invention, insight, ideas... Please help fight the "I Effect."

When thinking about the next big thing, please think about somebody else for a change.

Yes, change is hard enough to push through the system as is. Don't stuff up the channels of progress with your own stuffiness.

During my career, I have seen many good product ideas dismissed because of the painful "I Effect." You see, when it comes to evaluating business ideas, often a fantastically homogeneous group of individuals sit around a table and point out how they themselves would never need such a device or service.

Most world-shattering inventions have suffered at least one such "I" dismissal. The computer in the home, the wireless radio box, talkie movies, television, and then color television.

I've certainly made the mistake myself several times. I once said that there is no opportunity in ringtones because "I would never buy one." And I've made other miserably wrong forecasts based on what I personally thought was annoying or cool. But I've learned. And so can you.

Almost 10 years ago I saw a very excellent Facebook-like service proposal get dismissed by an executive on the grounds that it was something the executive said he didn't need. "I don't understand it, and I don't think I would ever use it." That's not a verbatim quote: the real quote was even more brutal.

It's not easy to remove the "i" from the innovation equation, but I do suggest that your try. Remember, you can't spell myopia without "my." So fight it with fury. For example, when attending any brainstorming session, interrupt anyone who talks constantly about their own day-to-day experiences. You probably know the type already: "Well, what I do is when I get home I turn on..." Or, "I would never use such a thing."

I acknowledge that are times when anecdotal evidence mirrors general behavior. But I have met very few individuals who have the instinctual talent to really understand what ports well to the larger audience.

One reason so many new products & service come from young minds working out of old garages is because in big companies, go-no-go decisions are ultimately made by out-of-touch managers working closely with out-of-touch executives.

When it comes to innovation, please check your I sight and do make sure that you're not getting in the way.

[ images from Patheos ]

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