The Innovator’s Edge: Addressing Needs That Don’t Exist!

Despite the fact that business and advertising classes and textbooks tell us that the first stage in the consumer decision-making process is identifying a need, there are certainly instances when consumers don’t know they have a need. That’s where innovators can have an edge.

Lee E. Miller and Kathleen Hayes Onieal recently wrote a blog post for Harvard Business Review called “Getting People to Believe in Something They Can’t Yet Imagine.” In the blog post, Miller and Onieal discuss the fate that often befalls new, groundbreaking innovations: Nobody believes they will catch on! The very fact that something is so revolutionary and unheard of often makes getting buy-in from key decision-makers next to impossible. The authors point out some of the reasons for this, including organizational inertia, fear of change, financial disincentives and fear of failure, among others.

So what can be done to overcome these obvious challenges? Certainly, companies introduce innovative products and services all the time. What makes the champions of change within those organizations succeed? Miller and Onieal point to several paths to success:

Move Slow

Change can be scary for an organization. Nobody wants to look foolish by endorsing a failure, and businesses don’t want to throw a lot of money at an untested venture. One strategy is to work incrementally towards the ultimate goal, so the shock of change is spread out over time.

Show them Something Tangible

If your organization or whoever you are trying to sell on your new idea can’t visualize the dream you believe in, try showing it to them. If your detractors can see, feel and experience your idea, they might start to understand how great that idea is.

Get People Invested Early

Miller and Onieal discuss pilot programs in their article and argue that getting support for a modest, low-risk pilot program can help build momentum for a larger investment. The authors explain, “Once managers have committed to the research or pilot project, it becomes difficult for them not to support the implementation that naturally follows from its success.”

Put it into the Context of a Changing Environment

For some, the fear of doing nothing can be stronger than the fear of taking a risk with a new idea. There are very few businesses working in a purely static industry or market. Change is always just around the corner. By framing your innovation as the solution to the challenges of a changing environment, you just might be able to swing some votes.

Innovation, of course, is risky. You may, after all, be off the mark. The greatest innovations we enjoy today, though, are enjoyed because those with vision, courage and tenacity dared to dream and deliver. What about you?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Complete the math problem before submitting a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.