In this opinion piece Matt Whale, managing director of innovation consultancy, How To Impact,(and pictured above) cautions if you’re trying to be a disruptor perhaps you ought to have a good hard think first.
The word ‘disruptive’ gets thrown around so much it has almost lost its meaning, with many brands and creative agencies trying to be innovative for the sake of it. The end result can often be barely making a noise or, worst case, making too much noise for all the wrong reasons.
So if you’re aspiring to deliver true disruption, take a moment to ask yourself these questions.
Are you prepared to be 100% problem centric?
Many fail to understand what it is to be disruptive because they focus on successful products and services they’ve seen. I define it as the ability to abandon all preconceptions to understand a totally new problem. The focus should therefore be on the problem and not a preconceived solution.
One of the most common mistakes I see brands and agencies make is having an urgency to move towards a solution before properly exploring all the options. Many innovators have an inherent fear of being problem-centric for too long, but in order to be successfully disruptive, you should spend at least twice as much time concentrating on the problem at hand than you normally would.
Do you have the time, resources and mindset to be truly innovative?
We live in an era where change is a constant and things are moving fast. But being successfully innovative requires time and resources, so don’t get swept away in the fast lane.
Set off with an open, discovery mindset, taking time to explore multiple options at once, without pre-empting the final outcome. This means using an iterative process to collect in-depth consumer research, digital data and face to face insights. Don’t keep research theoretical, in fact, make it real by incorporating escalating rounds of design, prototyping and mock ups in collaboration with consumers to gain insight in-situ.
Finally, remember that changing your mind based on evidence is not a sign of weakness. Research is only of use when you use it, so if you’re not prepared to pivot, you’re not ready to innovate.
What will real consumers think?
The importance of gaining in-depth consumer insight in successful innovation cannot be underestimated. An example we delivered earlier this year is the launch of Three Chapters, the first Australian product to disrupt the very traditional wine sector in 50 years. The concept offers three vintages in single serve mini-bottles, which stack to mimic the familiar standard sized wine bottle format. We tested two different models – cubed and cylindrical – in homes, bottle shops and bars using a 3D-printed, acrylic prototype.
On first sight, 32 of the 36 consumers in our test group said they’d try the cubed bottle first. If this had been a traditional focus group we might have stopped there, however, we urged them to continue to use the bottle. After a while passing the prototypes around, the majority changed their mind and decided the eye-catching cubed bottle was too much of a novelty. Their emotional need for a ‘proper’ wine experience overrode their desire for a twist on the classic format.
Have you done a common-sense check?
Artificial focus groups will never be able point out flaws with your prototype or idea like face-to-face, in-situ consumer exploration will. We test poured the cube bottle, finding that due to the size of the bottle’s shoulders relative to its neck, the wine spilled down consumers’ arms. Naturally, we changed the design and tested the new and improved version again.
Exploring and playing out your idea in front of real consumers will give your idea a common-sense check that can easily be forgotten when you’re focused on the solution, and give you the chance to perfect your idea.
Can you embrace the data paradox?
Jeff Bezos once said “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”
It’s a sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with, however, we also need to question the type of data we have. Companies want hard numbers and quantifiable certainty where they should be embracing the validity of story-telling based on qualitative data garnered in collaboration with consumers in real world scenarios.
It was by focusing on consumer experience rather than stats that we secured the success of the Three Chapters pilot, which exceeded all sales targets and metrics, gaining praise from retailers who wanted to continue stocking it due to customer feedback.