We make innovation too hard.
When we think of innovation, we think of “disruptive innovation.” We think of innovations like the light bulb, the transistor, the microchip, Google and, maybe, Uber. Disruptive innovations change the way we live. But most innovations are not disruptive. They are incremental.
My Uncle Bill was an engineer and a professional tinkerer. In the 1970s, he had the first mobile phone I ever saw. It was in his car. When he came to visit, he would call us when he was on his way. We thought it was amazing. In reality, his “mobile phone” was a radio with phone-like features that sent a signal to a tower across the valley on Mt. Nebo. That tower converted the signal and put it into the phone system.
Craig McCaw and others recognized that if you build more towers, each tower becomes a “cell” to capture the signal and pass it along to other “cells” or connect to the phone system. Thus, cell phones were born. In about 1989, I had one of these “cell phones” hard-wired into my car. It looked much like Uncle Bill’s radio phone of the 1970s. As battery technology improved phones did not have to be hard-wired to the car battery any more. So, today, we have true mobile phones. They have changed our lives through incremental innovation and technology improvement.
Sudden disruptive innovations that quickly transform our lives are rare. Trying to create a sudden disruptive innovation is a bit like playing the lottery, a lot of people play but very few actually win. When there is a winner, it is BIG. The winner gets a lot of press as a great innovator. He or she becomes like a rockstar. Everyone knows him/her. So, to us, our tendency is to think of innovation as disruptive innovation. We also recognize that the road to disruptive innovation is daunting. Most of us would have difficulty creating sudden disruptive innovations…and we know it. So, we often don’t try. This is mindset is wrong because we set the standard of innovation too high.
In truth, anyone can innovate. Innovation is about making things better than they were before. It is about identifying a problem and solving it. Innovation is about challenging the status quo and asking the question, “What if…” It is rarely disruptive; it is usually incremental. But incremental innovations often become disruptive just as my Uncle Bill’s radio phone did when it evolved into a mobile smartphone.
Over the past several years, 20|20 has gained quite a reputation for innovation. Recently 20|20 was named to the GRIT “Most Innovative Supplier Companies in Market Research” list for the 4th year in a row at #11. We simply envision a better research future and ask the question “What if…” We seek to advance the practice of research so we innovate. We may not change the world overnight, but we are improving the way researchers understand customers.
In 2016, 20|20 is introducing several new innovations that envision better, easier and faster research than ever before. You can participate in the Spring Innovations webinar or another 20|20-hosted webinar to learn about how to apply innovations to your research methods by clicking here.
Go innovate! Its not as hard as it sounds and its a heckuva lotta fun.