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Adding Value By Subtraction

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Success


When we’re innovating a product or iterating a service, we tend to add value by introducing features and benefits. But more isn’t always better.

Sometimes improvements and progress are made by removing things that people wouldn’t miss.

What could you subtract or stop doing to improve your product or service?

Image by Garry Knight

Better By Degrees

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation

The track and field coach Bill Bowerman spent twenty-four years training athletes at the University of Oregon to optimise their performance. Bowerman was also the co-founder of Nike, and most famously the inventor of the waffle sole running shoe (which he prototyped by pouring rubber into the family’s waffle iron). Bowerman’s innovation made the shoe lighter and increased its grip. A tiny tweak that changed everything for the athletes who wore them and the company that made them.

Throughout history, what look like giant leaps were a result of tiny adjustments. Incremental shifts. Slight gaps that were filled. Something once thought trivial understood to be essential. The untapped and unseen, newly revealed.

The people who change the world pay attention to the seemingly insignificant. They’re always on the lookout for a way to make things better by degrees. What we see when we look at an athlete is someone running fast. What Bowerman saw was someone who could run faster.

Image by Happy Rower

Progress And Potential

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation

Nobody knows who invented the button five thousand years ago. At first, buttons were simply used to adorn clothing. It wasn’t until the invention of the buttonhole three thousand years later that buttons became functional. It took us two thousand years to reimagine what the button could do. And in that moment fashion and even the fabric of our society was changed forever.

The invention of the buttonhole meant we had a more reliable way of securing our clothes. Instead of having to drape ourselves in swathes of cloth, we could wear more fitted garments that used less fabric. Clothing could be designed not only to cover bodies but also to subtly reveal them. People were free to move more easily because their clothing stayed put. That newfound freedom likely had a knock-on effect on both creativity and productivity.

It took someone asking a better question about what a button was for, to see what a button could be for.

All progress is about taking a small step into the unknown, towards the uncharted territory of the never been done before.

Image by Sam Rodgers. HT to Isaac Mizrahi

12 Lessons From The Biggest Hit Of The Year

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Success

Ed Sheeran’s hit song, ‘Shape of You’ was the most streamed track of 2017. The official video is expected to reach three billion views within a year of being uploaded. There’s a lot we can learn from this video where Ed and his co-writers talk about the process of writing a hit song.

12 Lessons From The Biggest Hit of 2017

1. Hits are accidents waiting to happen. You have to put yourself the situations that give you the best chance of doing great work.

2. Creativity is unpredictable. In Ed’s words.’None of us thought that much into it.’

3. Flexibility is your friend. Understanding what’s not working is key to finding what does work.

4. You can’t always think your way to success. Sometimes you have to feel your way.

5. Going against the grain often creates magic.

6. Shifting your focus can help you to view challenges with fresh eyes.

7. Average first drafts are necessary iterations of great finished products.

8. Your perceived flaws and enforced constraints can become your biggest strengths.

9. A strong team trumps a lone superstar.

10.Nobody knows for sure. Everything would be a hit if we could predict what’s going to fly.

11.It pays to allow your work to be seen through someone else’s lens.

12.Don’t set out to win. Set out to love what you do.

Here’s to continuing to learn from our failures and successes.

Image by Kmeron

21 Questions For Creators And Innovators

filed in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Success

Ideas are easy and free, execution can be painful and costly. Not just because it requires time, effort and resources—but because we often don’t do enough groundwork to get clear about the impact we hope to create. While it’s important to plan for success and mitigate against failure, what’s equally worthwhile exploring is why the idea matters to you and the people you hope it will serve. Why should you give it priority?
These twenty-one questions will help you get clear about your intention.

21 Questions For Creators And Innovators

1. What sparked this idea?
2. What’s your motivation for starting this project?
3. Who is the ideal user, client or customer for the end product?
4. Why will they buy or buy into it?
5. Why do you care about solving this problem for these people?
6. Why are you the person or team to bring it to life?
7. Why this project and not something else?
8. What’s the end goal?
9. What’s the first step?
10.What resources do you need?
11.What’s your minimal viable product?
12.Who do you need to involve or get behind the project?
13.How much time do you need?
14.How will you test your idea?
15.Who can you trust to give you objective feedback?
16.What are the likely challenges you could face?
17.How can you mitigate against or learn from them?
18.What circumstances would make you quit?
19.What does success look like?
20.If this idea succeeds what’s your next step?
21.If not this, then what?

You’re more likely to succeed by confronting the hard questions before you begin.

Image by Business Region Skane

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