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.

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Attention-grabbing vs. wow factor (there’s a big difference)

A lot of celebs seek to grab attention (see Cyrus, Miley or “Kardashian – Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall, Kylie or Kris).  They make outsized noise doing over the top things involving nudity, wrecking balls, giant teddy bears, costumed little people, farm animals and meat suits to get on our radar.  And it works.  For about 15 minutes.  A lot of new products seek to do the same thing. But there is a HUGE difference between attention-grabbing “Whoa” and true “Wow” factor.  And if you want to succeed for more than 15 minutes, you need lasting WOW factor.  What is it and how do you know if you have it?

bikeLook just above.  WOW, right?  Just WOW.  Not made you look, 15 minutes of fame “whoa”, but WOW.  Lasting cool.  “It” factor.  It’s a bitch to develop but not hard to define.  Lasting Wow is deliberately built to reinforce brand, send the right message, with just the right design queues and touches that deliver lasting cool. You know you have it when most anyone in your intended target looks at your new innovation and simply utters the word, ”Wow.”  Not “whoa” like a Miley Cyrus stunt.  But “Wow”.  Whoa is Miley Cyrus, WOW is Adele.

When developing new products, you should research, brainstorm, design and engineer with “WOW”, not “Whoa” in mind. At least if you want your new product to have more than 15 minutes of fame.

Want breakthrough innovation? Be very, very contrary

Don’t think innovation can be forced or pulled out of thin air? Au contraire.  Seriously.  Au contraire.  One simple and HIGHLY EFFECTIVE way to achieve innovation is to be very, very, very contrary.  How?

A GREAT innovation tool we’ve used over the years to achieve real results is called The Great “What If” Game.  Essentially, this brainstorming exercise forces you to look at your situation (product or service) in very contradictory ways by asking a series of “what if” questions.  For example, in looking at your situation, what if we:

  • Modernize it?
  • Make it bigger? Make it smaller? Change its shape?
  • Substitute in something new or unexpected?
  • Make it more hip/cool?
  • Beautify it?
  • Simplify it?
  • Make it thicker?
  • Make it lighter?
  • Make it sexier?
  • Make it more fun?
  • Make it more powerful or potent?
  • Combine it with something improbable?
  • Make it healthier?
  • Make it more indulgent?
  • Make it more personal?
  • Make it more upscale?
  • Etc., etc.

You get the idea.  We challenge you to dream up your own large number of “what if” questions for your product or service. Then, see where it takes you.

Skeptical and don’t think this can really work? Au contraire – here is just a smattering of real world examples of where it has worked (by creating juxtaposition vs. the status quo):

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The moral of the story? Use the Great “What If” Game to zig where others zag, go up to their down, be yin to their yang.  And watch what happens.

Let’s brainstorm! Have any favorite techniques you use to think contrarian or get outside the box? Please share them over here in the comments.

The Holy Grail in Innovation

Holy GrailWant to get on the fast track to mediocrity and short-changing your new products?  Just compare yourself to your competitors.  Be a copycat.  Look to slightly one up a few key features.    Look to be just a tiny bit better (or cheaper) and what’s your reward?  A slightly better shade of mediocrity.

Instead, what we should all strive for something that’s more elusive, harder to find, yet worth the journey.  You won’t find it in competitive benchmarking.  You won’t find it in mere feature one-upmanship.  Rather, we should all be striving for the bigger idea.  The rule breaker.  The unheard of.  The “did they just do that?”

If you really want to innovate, that’s the Holy Grail we should all be romping through the forest and searching for.