Here’s To The Crazy Ones

Way back in the stone age days of 1997, Apple Computer came out with a kick ass ad campaign during the launch of the Macintosh. This “Think Differently” campaign rang true then, and it’s still equally powerful today.  Here’s how it went:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

think differentSo while everyone else is telling you why not, nay-saying, resisting, saying “we can’t” or “we won’t” or just being a general all around pain in the you-know-what, just keep telling yourself:STAY CRAZY That is, if you really want to make a difference.

The single key to great market research

The single key to great market research isn’t slick research design.  Or some perfect technique.  Or recruiting exact match research respondents.  Or asking just the right questions in just the right order.  Or achieving statistical significance. So what is it?

The single key to great market research is INTERPRETATION.  The ability to understand not just what a customer or prospect says, but what this really means. Here are the facts:
• People rarely know what they want in the first place
• Even if people know what they want, they have a hard time articulating it
• People cannot envision what they do not yet have
• What people say is often not exactly linear to what you should do about it

So how to get around this? When setting up research, focus less on the exact technique or research design and more on who is interpreting it.  In research, you need a seer.  Someone who doesn’t just hear, but that understands. You need to find someone with a sixth sense.

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Frankenstein Your Innovation

Is the mad scientist really mad? Not when it comes to innovation.  Because one powerfully effective path to success is to create a monster.

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Or for that matter, several monsters. Just to see which version truly gets the intended rise out of the villagers.

By way of explanation: one of the most successful entrepreneurs we’ve worked with was a big believer in experimentation as the most effective means to successful innovation.  It all started with down and dirty experimentation and a whole lot of it. Trying out lots and lots of product concepts in highly informal, grassroots settings.  This meant building a variety of functioning prototypes in all states of being.  And then experimenting on consumers in real life settings to get true gut reactions.   In the end, he sold his household cleaning products company for over $300 million in cash.

Why did this “Frankenstein” approach work? 1) Trying real products in real settings forces consumers into a true gut reaction – they either love your product or they don’t, 2) you get incredibly vivid feedback to evolve your ideas – far beyond the surface level, and 3) it is faster and cheaper than conventional R & D methods.  Plus, let’s face it.  If you throw enough darts at the wall, a few are bound to stick.

So if you want to fast track your innovation, get crazy and create a few monsters. It’s downright scary how well it works.

What Voodoo can teach us about Innovation

Have you heard about Voodoo Doughnut? If not: these doughnut shops, founded in Portland, Oregon, are where people literally line up around the block day and night to get in on what they are serving.    There’s no end in sight to their long lines…or their nationally expanding business.  What makes Voodoo Doughnuts so kick ass? Why are they killing it where so many other doughnut shops struggle? The answers to these questions teach us some key lessons about innovation.

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The secret to Voodoo Doughnut’s success? They draw familiar, beloved ingredients from other walks of life and bring them to the world of doughnuts.  Things like bacon.  Oreos.  Cap’n Crunch. Cocoa Puffs.  Peanut Butter.  Nutella.  Etc.  And now…you can love all those ingredients…in some extremely indulgent, unbelievably delicious, unexpected, totally original doughnut combinations.

BApplied to innovation and new products, this technique is called Parallel Universe.  It’s juxtaposition.  It’s familiar and at the same time it feels totally fresh and new.  Architects do it.  Fashion designers do it.  And so do some very sharp new product innovators. Do you?