Innovation Insights

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Why do some people hate brainstorming?

If you want to start a revolution at your next staff meeting, grab a marker, stand up, and announce, “Okay everyone, we’re going to be innovative today. We’re getting outside the box and we’re gonna do some brainstorming for the next hour!” In their minds, your team members will be grabbing pitchforks, throwing darts, rolling […]

How Building a Brand is Like Building a Boat, part 2

Last time, we reviewed how, when I built a wooden kayak, I realized that building a boat and building a brand have a lot in common. You have to have vision, plans, patience, control, and it really helps to be innovative while you’re at it. There are other similarities and there was ONE big one […]

How is building a brand like building a boat?

  I’ve been building brands for over 35 years. Last year I did something new. I built a boat. A Chesapeake 17 Sea Kayak by #CLCBoats, made of marine plywood, epoxy, fiberglass, and time. It took about three months and I learned a lot about woodworking along the way. I also learned that building a boat […]

What if I’m not creative?

When speaking to groups on innovation and creativity, I always ask the question, “Are you creative?” Typically, about 25% will say “Yes”. Here’s a little known fact: Everyone is creative. Yes. That includes you. You were born creative. You were born to create. If you think otherwise, stay tuned. NASA developed a test for creativity in the […]

The Unique Selling Proposition – R.I.P.

The Unique Selling Proposition was the golden rule of advertising for decades, and no matter how much lip service is given to the value proposition and other strategies, the mindset of the USP is still there. It’s time to lay it to rest.

Zig or Zag? Winners break the rules.

There’s an unwritten rule in every industry that says “We all go to market the same way.” It’s a dumb rule and I’ve been preaching against it for 35 years. I wish I could say I wrote the book on the subject, but Marty Neumeier beat me to it. More on that in a moment.

Nobody buys a boat just to have a boat

When I discuss Marketing Innovation, one-on-one or with a group of 250, I always tell the story of the drill bit. It goes like this: You walk into Lowe’s to get a half inch drill bit. Six dollars later, you have your drill bit. But you didn’t go to Lowe’s because you wanted to add to […]

What if your plan is solving the wrong problem?

Last month, we conducted a ReVision for a Cleveland company that came to us with a serious problem. In our PreView, we worked through the problem and, in less than an hour, we had two very good solutions. We all felt good about both options and resolved to carry those into the ReVision session the next day. […]

If you’re not selling used cars, don’t act like a used car salesman

Last Saturday, I jumped in the truck, turned on the radio, and there he was… the local DJ with the used car dealer urging me to “Come on down right now for free pizza, a chance to spin the wheel, and drive away in a certified preowned, like-new car with zero down and no interest… […]

That’s absurd! vs. Innovation

When we ReVision a client, we start the day with a few simple rules that begin with “Leave your ‘buts’ at the door”. You know the “but” people. They follow every new idea with a “but”. “But we tried that.” “But we can’t afford that.” “But we’ve never done that before!”

Speed Kills vs. Innovation

I just heard a public service announcement for the Highway Patrol. You’ve heard it before – “This is trooper B. R. Jones reminding you that speed kills. Slow down this holiday weekend. Yadda,  yadda. Sorry Trooper Jones. Speed does NOT kill. Anyone that has driven on Germany’s autobahn can tell you that speed is not the […]

Passion or Vision. Which would you choose?

It’s clear. A company needs a vision. It has to know where it’s going, why it’s going, and it needs a plan to get there.  Without purpose and passion though, a vision is just words on paper…a body without a soul. This is what separates the great companies from the good ones. JohnDeere was a […]

Do You Have 2020 Vision?

Every MBA school in America will tell you the importance of a 5 year plan. You have to have a clear vision of where you are headed, where your business will be, and what it will LOOK like five years from now. How many employees, how many customers, what kind of product mix? You have […]

Innovation and the Better Mouse Trap

The old saying goes “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”…implying that all you have to do is find a better way of doing something and you’ll be a successful innovator. Not true Lots of better solutions fail everyday and they fail for two basic reasons: #1 – […]

Innovation and the BIG Deal, part two.

This is a story about the little things. The little things that solve little problems that give customers what they want and bring success to the little thing innovator. Hewlett-Packard had great success with the handheld calculator but they did NOT invent the handheld calculator. That honor belongs to Texas Instruments. The first calculator was […]

Innovation is not a BIG deal.

Simon Sinek in Start With Why  says innovation is revolutionary. It changes industries, changes the way we do things. According to Sinek, innovation is a BIG DEAL. He is right. And he is wrong. Innovation is a big deal about 2 percent of the time. 98 percent of the time though, innovation goes unnoticed by most […]

Market Innovation to Avoid Extinction

Innovation guru Doug Hall says that every business, every product, every service is on a continuum somewhere between Monopoly and Commodity. At one end, you own the market (for the moment) and at the other, you compete with the rest of the commodities. I think it is the difference between Distinction and Extinction. At the Distinction end […]

The Thought Leader vs. The Change Leader

Thought Leadership may be the fastest growing “sub-industry” in the world. There are over 150 million blogs covering every subject under the sun. Everyone is clamoring to be THE Thought Leader in their respective fields. (Including yours truly, of course.) While thought leadership is good, it can also be a trap. In a popular 1960’s […]

Innovation is like a sunset

I spend a lot of time on a sailboat so I’ve seen my share of sunsets. Glorious sunsets. Average sunsets. Lots of sunsets. It occurred to me recently that innovation is a lot like a sunset. 1. Sunsets can surprise you. You know the sunset is coming but you never know how it will appear […]

Innovation Beats Clever Advertising

One of the best ad campaigns of all time was unveiled the day Avis declared “We’re number two, we try harder.” Avis was immediately propelled from the back lot of the airport parking deck to the “front row” in the minds of the car renting public. It was brilliant. Hertz dominated the market and, until that […]

Market Innovation So You Can Say “No”

Marketing is not just about growing. It is also about choice. Sure you want to give your customers choices, but you also want to be able to choose your customers. If you have a steady flow of inquiries and leads, you have more control over the kind of business you take. This is especially true […]

Market Innovation or Don’t Market

Innovation is the buzzword of the century and, while it is laudable to want to be like Apple or Amazon, it’s hardly necessary to reinvent your industry to find success. It IS necessary to market innovation. Why marketing innovation works. Simply put, innovation is a creative solution to a customer problem. Big problems, little problems, […]

Innovate or what?

You know the stories of the great innovators. Amazon, Apple, Google are the superstar innovation companies of the day. Their stocks, their sales, their margins, their profits, and their brands all reflect the benefits of innovation. But what happens if you DON’T innovate? You wake up one day and you are closing 120 stores. You […]