Sunday, June 1, 2014

Believing in the Impossible

As a business owner, it's important to understand that a key driver of business growth and lasting success is effective product development. To most, that means coming up with innovations that improve upon existing products. A good example of this is the Apple iPhone. By adding the power of computing to cell phone communications, Apple created a product that changed how and what much of the world communicates. This kind of evolutionary development is referred to as incremental innovation.

While incremental innovation can be a great source of new revenue and profit, the real game changes occur when we engage in disruptive innovation and create products that forever change society. One example of disruptive innovation is something you’re using right now - the personal computer. Whether it’s a desktop PC, a laptop, A tablet, or smartphone, it’s safe to say the personal computer has changed the world.

So what’s the fundamental key to engaging in disruptive innovation? It’s simply believing in the impossible.

You might think I’m just talking about thinking outside the box here, but it goes way beyond that. Thinking outside the box involves applying existing ideas and possibilities to a given problem that haven't been applied to it before. That’s really where incremental innovation comes from.

Believing in the impossible puts you at the starting line of making the impossible not only possible, but a reality. Believing in the impossible enables you to explore it, see a problem, and envision a solution that others would never have dreamed of. And, once you’ve envisioned a solution, you can begin to work on making that vision a reality.

Let’s try some disruptive innovation now.

There’s a line in “Alice in Wonderland” where Alice says; “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." It may not be just before breakfast time, but sit back right now, close your eyes, and try to think of just one impossible thing - anything.

I did this exercise last night as I lay in bed. The impossible thing I thought of was using a person’s own body heat to heat a bedroom overnight, enabling him to lower the thermostat in the rest of the home to, say, 55 degrees. That would certainly be a game changer on many levels. As I pondered that idea, it occurred to me that it would require some means of harvesting one's body heat (98.6 degrees worth) and circulating it through the room. Impossible? Maybe, maybe not.

What about the impossible thing you thought of? Impossible? Maybe, maybe not. But, at the very least, those impossible ideas just might lead somewhere.

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