Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to work with numerous innovation teams on dozens of projects at several different organizations. At Industry Expansion Solutions (IES), we help companies implement a new process and innovation culture we call Innovation Engineering. It is outside the scope of this blog to explain how Innovation Engineering works, but I’m happy to address that individually if interested readers will contact me.
While all the innovation teams that I have coached have had very different projects, I have noticed several common misconceptions about innovation and innovation processes. I plan to cover these myths in a series of five blogs over the next several months. With apologies up-front for lack of creativity, I will call these “Kevin’s 5-myths to creating innovation”.
Myth 1. If you have a meaningfully unique innovation, 100% of customers will buy it
With Innovation Engineering, I often see teams struggling to achieve the ‘perfect innovation’. And while they may not have a formal definition for ‘perfect innovation’, it seems their definition, too often, is “100% of our potential customers will buy our innovation.” While that can be a great stretch goal, too many times I see this unrealistic target inhibiting the team’s progress.
If you think about the companies or products that are the most innovative, they still have competition and less than 100% of market share. Think Starbucks, think Google, think iPhone—none have 100% market share. Apple, with its very successful line of iPhones, still garners less than 50% of the smart phone market share. Depending on your industry segment and position in the market—an innovation that could move you from 5% market share to 10% market share could be considered wildly successful.
So while creating WOW innovations that are highly differentiated and have mass appeal is a great target—innovation teams cannot let 100% be a target that stymies team progress. Or to put a new twist on an often cited quote on greatness—“While good can be the enemy of great, so can perfect.”
Kevin Grayson is Director of Business Growth and Innovation Services at NC State Industry Expansion Solutions. He provides strategic consulting, including business plan and sales development strategy, market penetration, market growth, new product introduction, innovation strategies and product design to clients in multiple industries.