Written by ZOOZ
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| Issue 42 |
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Ari Manor, CEO, ZOOZ
On strategic development in practice
The Ideal Solution
Occasionally, mainly in relatively conservative industries, an opportunity arises to develop a truly innovative product or service, a breakthrough and perfect solution in the customers’ eyes. In other words – to take part in a radical innovation – a revolution and not evolution. When this succeeds, the reward is immense, and the innovative product or service takes the market by storm, becomes an industry leader for many years to come, and maintains its good reputation and high profitability. However – the path to creating the ideal solution and to achieving such success is not easy, and it is rife with obstacles and risks. So how do you do it properly?
Here are a few of ZOOZ’s recommendations for a company that is interested in developing ideal and revolutionary solutions for their customers:
- Create a revolutionary atmosphere: Verify that everyone
involved is in sync with each other, and devoted to the
cause – developing a revolutionary rather than a
conservative solution. Sometimes “radical innovation” teams
are set up for this purpose, which include the relevant
development and marketing people. It is sometimes necessary
to isolate such a team and separate them from the rest of
the organization so that the team can think openly and
freely without any limitations
- Select the appropriate market: You should naturally look for a niche of the industry where the products and services are far from being satisfactory to the customers. The pharmaceutical market (as well as the vitamin and food supplement market) are good examples of such a market. It’s best to stay away from markets where the solutions offered “already do the job” as far as the customers are concerned (such as the microwave oven market). In these niches, which are mostly mature and have already undergone commodification, it is more difficult to generate revolutions, and convince that they are necessary.
- Understand customer needs: The starting point should be the question “If we ignore all the solutions that currently exist, and we start from scratch, how would the customers perceive the ideal solution?” In order to answer this question you need to understand what need the solution answers in the customers’ eyes. For example – let us take a flashlight as an example – the need is to create a strong and focused beam of light. You also have to understand what the difficulties that users encounter are (for example – the battery runs out quickly and the flashlight is too heavy). It is also important to understand what is less important to customers (for example – a colorful beam of light). This stage will avoid developing an irrelevant solution, for example – one that is “ahead of its time”.
- Develop a concept for an ideal product: Define the threshold requirements for the ideal product. What are the required breakthroughs? For example, with flashlights, an ideal flashlight will have the following characteristics (among others): a strong and focused beam of light, lightweight, extremely long active battery life, high durability and waterproof (for use outside the home and in harsh conditions).
- Define marketing constraints: This stage is essential in order to develop a practical solution and prevent the development people from developing a “cool toy but too complicated and expensive”. Predefine the pricing (the product price the end customer pays) that needs to be adhered to, the development and manufacturing budget, and additional constraints. For example, with regards to flashlights, $25 per flashlight, even for an ideal flashlight, is a reasonable cost. Moreover, the solution needs to be simple, intuitive, easy to use, and safe. For example – turning the flashlight on and off using the same switch, focusing the intensity of the beam using the same switch, and of course – that the flashlight doesn’t electrocute or poison its users…
- Give up unnecessary conventions: In order to withstand the constraints and enable reasonable cost and ease of operation and use, you need to give up everything that is less important to the customers, For example – to give up on a colorful beam of light in the flashlight. In addition, you should consider technologies and solutions that were unconventional in the industry. For example, with flashlights – a body made of aluminum (lightweight and strong), and halogen bulbs.
- Develop a prototype: Now, when the marketing needs, the ideal concept, and the various constraints have been defined – you can move on to developing the actual solution. You have to decide which technologies to combine, what the design will look like, and develop an appropriate prototype. The combination between the ideal (a breakthrough solution to customer needs) and reality (cost and applicability) poses a significant challenge to the development team, and this actually increases creativity and the chance to come up with a successful solution. A successful prototype is meant to show the possibility of a breakthrough product at a reasonable cost and intuitive and simple design. For example – Maglite – which developed its revolutionary flashlight is 1979 was smart enough to include, even in the first generation product, a wide range of innovations that turned it into the best flashlight in the world overnight. Among other things, the flashlight contains a halogen bulb (that produces stronger light but also consumes less electricity, and is also more resistant to bumps and knocks because the bulb does not have a filament), an aluminum body (lightweight and also more durable), water and dust-proof, a spare bulb in the body of the flashlight, an opening and closing mechanism and the ability to focus the beam of light by turning the body of the flashlight, and more.
- Protect from competition: The ideal solution will draw a lot of attention, and it’s important to protect it from competition. Therefore, it is important to invest in setting up a comprehensive “patent wall”. Maglite was smart enough to protect its radical innovation using a variety of patents, and to date, despite competition from China, it still leads the industry, way ahead of its competitors.
- Smart marketing: First, it is important to brand the ideal solution, including a catchy logo and slogan, well thought out design and finish of the products and packaging, and investing in commercialization means (site, displays, marketing documentation, etc.). Radical innovation provides a high added value, and it is important to emphasize who is providing this added value. Secondly
- it is easier to spread an ideal solution virally, since it attracts a lot of attention and becomes a hot topic of conversation. The first Maglite flashlights were designed differently than any other flashlight (black color plated, durable and functional appearance) and were sold in larger sizes to U.S. police and security forces, and therefore received very high levels of exposure and prominence. When they were later offered in the camping and travel stores they quickly became the industry standard in the U.S. and American backpackers spread the word about the ultimate flashlights to the rest of the world.
- Real support and commitment: Behind the development of a radical innovation stands a real commitment to develop the ultimate solution for customers. An example of Maglite’s commitment is the lifetime guarantee that they give for their flashlights. The writer of this article (Ari) has had a Maglite since 1986, which still works like new after trips around the world, and in fact, it is virtually identical to the flashlights that Maglite sells today, 21 years later. They not only gave a lifetime guarantee, they truly created a product that lasts a lifetime.
Maglite is not the only company that succeeded in implementing radical innovation and developing breakthrough and ideal solutions for its customers. There are other numerous examples of companies that insisted on developing ideal solutions for their customers, and changing the conventions in their relevant industries.
A prominent example is the Volkswagen Beetle, which was designed to drive efficiently and with low maintenance costs. Its design was so successful that its models were not changed at all for decades (see the adjacent ad).
Another example is the NovoPen – a user-friendly insulin syringe manufactured by Novo Nordisk. When it was developed, the market was physician-biased, but Novo Nordisk insisted on focusing on patient satisfaction and not on physician requirements. Therefore, the syringe was designed like a pen, and was convenient to carry anywhere. Success was soon to follow, and to date this is the best selling insulin syringe in the world.
FedEx’s delivery service, which made it possible for the first time to send overnight deliveries to and from anywhere in the United States, is an example of radical innovation in the service industry. Also here, the ideal solution was not easy to attain, but the entrepreneurs decided not to compromise, and therefore they developed a complex logistics layout that made it possible to offer its customers an ideal service.
Are you also interested in developing an ideal and revolutionary solution for your customers? Radical innovation is a large and intimidating goal, which the book
Built to Last is based on – it can recruit your entire organization to the cause. Therefore, we wish you good luck, and we hope to one day enjoy the fruits of your innovation.
Innovation ideas not yet realized
Ideas for innovation in basketball
following ideas were developed using various thinking tools, and do not exist at present (to the best of our knowledge):
- A basketball that can be inflated to two sizes (small and regular – can be achieved using a “ball inside a ball”).
- A basketball with a reinforced grip zone (makes it possible to catch it with one hand, for practicing shooting hoops, for example).
- A basketball with a label area (for writing who the ball belongs to, for example, to prevent theft)
- A basketball with a guiding chip (that instructs the person practicing to throw more at a curve, further to the right, etc.).
A power basketball (you practice with an especially heavy basketball, and then it becomes easier to play with a basketball in a regular game).
- A semi-transparent basketball (doesn’t conceal, easier to see if the ball crossed the outside line, etc.).
- A basketball with a spin ring (makes it easy to spin the basketball on a finger, and to teach tricks).
- A basketball that “applauds” when it goes through the basket (encourages children when they are learning how to sink shots).
- A basketball that can be inflated by bouncing (operated by an internal mechanism that pumps air into the ball when it is bounced).
- A glow-in-the-dark basketball (preferably comes with a glow-in-the-dark hoop, and then you can play in the dark).
- A reversible basketball – can be turned inside out or right side in (one side for playing outdoors and one for playing indoors).
A basketball that changes color to green when it achieves optimal air pressure (indicates exactly how much it needs to be inflated)
A tip on effective management
Daily Goal Competition
In order to motivate employees you can organize a daily competition among them and give a prize to the first person that achieves the desired daily goal. What a daily goal specifically? Because it is more effective to offer an incentive like this – sort of like a daily game that keeps everyone on their toes that day. Some examples of daily goals: the first person to sell 3 different products, the first person that attained 30 customers over the phone, the first person that causes existing customers to purchase 5 repeat buys, the first person that resolved 7 open service calls from customers, etc. It is important to set goals that support your strategy or change processes that you are trying to generate. If, for example, you have decided that you want to shorten the overall customer complaint handling time, resolving 7 open service calls can be a relevant and appropriate daily goal.
In order for this to become a real game, it is important to organize a large game board that everyone can see, and write the names of employees participating in the competition. The employees will run to the board and update their individual results each time they get closer to the goal. Eventually, one of them will be declared the winner and receive the daily prize, which can be a 100 NIS bill that is taped to the game board.
- Information about the Employee Motivation workshop is available
16 in the Hebrew PDF file).