Tag Archives: innovation

Creating a sense of ownership

June 18th, 2012

That tactility, once you pick it up you can’t put it down.

Apple stores purposely tilt the screens just enough so you can’t quite see it, so you reach out and adjust the screen. Then you can start playing with it and you start to get a sense of ownership.

They’ve all been loaded with games, apps and of course internet access. Heck just pop in and use the internet for free.

How do you create a sense of ownership? Getting your customers involved so they can actually take ownership of what you’re offering.

Kind of like what Michael Gerber was saying when I meet him, the best companies allow their customers to create.

Why pay for water?

November 3rd, 2010

That’s the attitude of Replenish, what they’re saying is that 95% of the volume of a household spray is water, water that costs them to mix, fill the bottle and ship to you.  What if they shipped you the chemicals and you use your own water? What a brilliant idea.

Swapping it around, highlight what’s not there instead of what is.

Thanks to Gizmodo for bringing it to my attention.

Ideas in action: Seglet, revenues for rooftops

July 13th, 2010

Interesting note via Twitter today, @EmilyRHarris sent me a note to this press release by SEGlet it reads:

“Owners and Building Managers can now list their rooftops as available sites for leases and partnerships for solar energy, wind energy, urban agriculture and more. SEGlet automatically calculates solar radiation, wind speed and direction, and climate data about each rooftop listed so that energy and urban agriculture companies can quickly qualify the rooftops as compatible for their projects.”

I only blogged about this a couple of days ago (Rooftops are abundant) – it’s great to see ideas in action (and so quickly).  It’s quite serendipitous, with so many people in the world no idea is original (really), it’s about those that move on them.

How can you be more creative?

June 10th, 2010

Creativity is like getting fit, often you need to nurture it to be more creative.

At a basic level, creativity is creating new links between existing ideas. The Wikipedia definition is excellent:

“Creativity is the ability to generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality. The process involves original thinking and then producing.”

So how can you be more creative? It’s all about creating new patterns, but here are some ideas:

  • Mix up your inputs: how & where do you absorb knowledge, new ideas, conversations?
  • Watch different tv shows
  • Meet the crazies (new people)
  • Wear different clothes
  • TRAVEL! Travel to places where people live completely different lifestyles
  • Read lots of books, and different kinds of books, include magazines, blogs in that mix
  • Listen to podcasts, radio, interviews, TED videos
  • Drive a different way to work, everyday, or walk a different path (or cycle, bus etc)
  • Express yourself! Start a blog, do some painting, take up an artful sport, photography.  You don’t have to share it with the world just do it.
  • Learn a new language
  • Attend different conferences, meetups, network & meet people
  • Do the YES experiment, say yes to all social opportunities which pop up for a period of time
  • Learn new skills! Take an art class, join a kayak club
  • Question everything, you’d be surprised what you learn and how quick
  • Invest in alone time, reflection, time to be quiet and relax
  • Do tastings! Of food, art, culture
  • Get a journal, draw ideas down, write them, scribble, tear our pages, stick them on the wall.  The mere act of pen to paper stimulates new thoughts & action, pushing through your existing ones.
  • Share ideas! Let them go and get new/better ideas.

Go, try one of them, get creative! If you think you’re boring, I bet you’re not, we’re all creative in our own ways – just give something a go.

You're always wrong! Therefore today's goal is to be less wrong than yesterday

May 24th, 2010

A favourite of mine:

“#11 of the bwagy marketing manifesto:

You are always wrong, you just need to be less wrong than your competitors.”

It is so true – no matter your stance someone can always come up with a solid reason why you are wrong.

Don’t stress about being 100% right, you just need to be less wrong than those you compete with.

(And take action.)”

Original here.

Risk Homeostasis [please read now]

March 7th, 2010

Risk Homeostasis is a theory that humans have a certain level of acceptable risk and we will seek to keep that in equilibrium.

If we take high risk in one part of our life we will seek to minimise it in another part.

For example, in a Munich Case Study two groups of taxis were monitored for accidents.  One group had ABS brakes installed, the others stayed with the regular breaks.  You would think then that the ABS guys had less accidents right?

Wrong.  What they found was the accident rate was about the same, the group with ABS having gained better braking would take other risks (ie braking late).

Have a read over at WikiPedia.  Watch my video below on RadioWammo discussing it:


It has interesting implications for all change, innovation and risk when you think about it.

Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell for the inspiration in his latest book What the Dog Saw.

12 Hour Startup: Creating significant change

November 12th, 2009


I was quite a curious kid, always asking questions, the ever curious question of WHY?  My first job was classic of this, it was assisting the local fire wood producer, chop up and distribute firewood.

My boss was an aging man, putting in the last few years before retirement, and it was his little one man band.  Our first job was to go out and collect the firewood, he would use the chainsaw to cut trees brought down by flooding.  Firstly he would cut the trees into rounds, my job was to then grab the rounds, put them in a pile.

We would then split the rounds in half, load them on the back of the flatbed truck and take them back to his wood yard.  Back at the yard, unload all the wood, put it in a pile.   The next step was to cut the wood with a log splitter, stack in another pile.

Finally we were ready for orders! Orders were by the cubic metre, and so a certain amount of barrow loads was a cubic metre.  We would then load the truck up an order at a time and deliver it.

It took me all of one day to speak up and go, hang on we are double, triple handling this wood.  Why don’t we split the back of the flatdeck truck in half, then into little stalls, the horizontal sides of the stall being such we could pull them out.

Then we could cut the firewood, split it on location, throw it into the stalls (which could be measured out on a cubic metre basis) then deliver straight to the customer.  We could save sooo much time.  “No Ben, this is the way I do it”.

This frustrated me to no end, but hey I got $10 for a mornings work and that bought me basketball cards.  I hung in there annoyed at partaking in such an inefficient process, as soon as the opportunity came up I quit my job and moved on.

What I rapidly learned was the concept of idea development, failing fast, modifying and moving on.  It’s no big secret, smart people understand it and embrace it.  Fail fast.  However whilst there is understanding – we fall short of having a mechanism for it.

That’s what the 12 Hour Startup (my first idea in The Best Ideas are Free) is about – formalising a mechanism that allows for remarkable ideas to be shared, tested, proven and ultimately to create significant change.

An idea alone isn't a business

September 13th, 2009

I just want to clarify (since I share ideas each and every day) an idea alone isn’t a business.

A business is a collection of ideas, executed in a fashion that generates profit.

An amazing idea helps a business spread, it forms the messages, builds the word of mouth but it is the collection of ideas and systems executed that make the business.  In essence an amazing idea provides a wave for the business to ride but that wave is short lived unless you have something behind it…

You need to take your amazing idea and mix it up with some others (usually standardised ideas) to turn it into a business.  Then you have something of amazing value.

Establishing Behaviour

June 14th, 2009

Creating a repetitive behaviour is a surefire way to solidify your product.

Yet how can you establish a new behaviour? Or remind your customers of it?

Slide your product back into their routine with freebies.  Give away a sample of your product in the right place at the right time.

Sell chewing gum? Give a stick of gum with every bill at a restaurant.  Create the routine of paying the bill and getting some gum.

Sell hand sanitiser? Have a free dispenser outside public toilets.  Remind consumers that they need your product.

Sell shoe nugget? Give away free samples with every pair of leather shoes sold.

Sell body wash? Give away samples at the gym.

The list goes on…. apply it to your industry.  The point I am making here is consumers often forget about your product – so give them a kind reminder.  They will appreciate it.

Fundamental Assumptions

May 14th, 2009

Fundamental Assumptions are what I question almost everyday.  

So what if it’s always been done that way, doesn’t mean we should continue.

Things change.

What I find is that going to the complete opposite yields not only greater understanding but the opportunity to tackle a problem in a way that hasn’t been attempted before.

Also no one else is doing it… which means you should at least give it a shot.

Building a Business API

April 26th, 2009

API stands for Application Programming Interface.  A geek term which means you can build a system that uses functions from another (through the API).

Google, Digg, Twitter use APIs to stimulate innovation and really open the platform up.  

Having an API maximises the potential of your service.  Smart on every level: leverage, stimulate innovation, buy out those that work, learn from those that fail…

Arising amongst these purely ‘tech’ services are startups building web platforms that connect the previously unreachable  through their online platform.  Once they are connected innovation can really happen.

Take Mint.com for example, by working with many different banks across the USA and importing their data into Mint they provide an industry standard.  The data is in a centralised location, abides by the same rules and can be opened up.

You see once you have ubiquity across an industry of data abiding the same structured rules you then provide a platform for innovation to happen over the API.

What could you do with Mint transaction data?

Compare spending versus external events (like google news, browsing habits, locality), provide a ‘new’ cashflow management tool, let people check their bank account via twitter or text.

Imagine the possibilities if you can create the same platform model in other industries, a platform for every postshop in the world, connecting all car yards or even every mobile network in the world.

Build a real life business api, open it up, see what happens.

Creating a space for ideas

March 18th, 2009

The biggest let down with firms trying to innovate is that they do not create the space for innovation to occur.

What happens when staff have new ideas? Who do they pitch to? Do they know who they should pitch to?

More often than not the ideas get squashed, as they threaten someone else.

To create a culture of innovation, ideas need to be open, shared, spared and rewarded.

Create a space for it to happen, have a Monday Ideas Post, a 12 hour startup day, a huge whiteboard in the middle of headquarters (like Google).

Once you have created that void, people will fill it and surprisingly fast.

Lead Generation

February 26th, 2009

We all need leads.

Qualified prospects whom we can do business with.

Consumers also need leads, leads to valuable, reputable and passionate companies.

The question is how can you put yourself within this wedge and help both parties.

If you have an answer to that in your niche chances are you have a business in the waiting.

Design for the wrong audience

December 2nd, 2008

Having had some photos taken for upcoming projects, one of the ‘poses’ I had to do was face one direction, but look at the camera.

It’s like doing something but twisting it so its not quite natural.

It’s like a book for those who don’t read

Or an mp3 player for those who aren’t tech savvy

Or a internet radio station for those who don’t listen to the radio

What product can you take out of its normal context and realign it?

Chances are you can blow open that space and own it.

Small IS the new Big

September 10th, 2008

I keep hearing it more and more.

“We launched with 50% of what we wanted, we could have launched with 10%”

“Scale down, smaller is better”

“Going to the absolute smallest market we can find, now dominate globally”

Just some of the errings.

They’re all right.

As Seth Godin discusses, Small is the new Big.  Big ideas start off small and are being run by small teams.

Go small, focus, be big.

How can we deliver with less? less features, less resources, less employees…. less everything.

Guy Kawasaki’s aim was to just have a couple of guys and make a cool $1m/year (trumeours)

Now magnify his concept by 1000, 1000 micro businesses run by a couple of guys dominating their tiny niche globally.

Small is the new big.

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