A couple of nights ago, I was enjoying a rerun of a TV show from the 90s. Heading into a commercial break, I heard, “Promotional consideration provided by Wal-Mart,” as their logo and slogan appeared on screen: “Always low prices. Always.” Remember when that was Walmart’s identity?
Fast forward 10 or 15 years after that show’s original air date and the rise of companies like Amazon, Dollar Tree and others would force Walmart to ditch their “low prices” slogan (2007) and begin carving out a new identity in the marketplace.
This little trip down memory lane just reminded me of a simple truth: You can never get too comfortable with your offering or your position in the marketplace. No matter how good things are right now, you can be sure there is a “game changer” lurking around the corner.
The good news is that you can be the game changer, or — as branding and innovation experts Ken Tencer and John Paulo Cardoso say in their new book (an Amazon bestseller) — the one to Cause a Disturbance (affiliate link).
“If you can slice a melon or make a right-hand turn,” says the subtitle of their book, “you can be a breakthrough innovator.”
It turns out that innovation isn’t as complicated as we often make it out to be. See if one of these three myths has been holding you back:
1. I need smarter people, more money, better technology, or something else before I can innovate.
Ken says someone at a speaking engagement once asked him, “What tools do I need to be an innovator?” Ken’s response: “Your eyes and ears.”
In other words, innovation starts with paying attention.
“If you pay close attention and look, listen and learn,” the authors write, “you will see many opportunities to continually renew your engagement with customers.”
Innovation isn’t just about being creative for sake of being creative. It’s about understanding what your customers need, and observing where the market is going.
2. We need to get away on an “ideation” retreat… and then we’ll be ready to innovate.
There is certainly value in going offsite with the sole purpose of brainstorming and dreaming up new initiatives… but that’s not the only place innovation happens. The idea that could transform your business — and even your industry — may come to mind during a 5-minute walk through your store, or on the next call with a prospective customer.
Ken and John use the example of changing the oil in your car: “You wouldn’t change the oil in your car just once a year — the engine would sputter, seize up and die. So why let your company leave innovation or the introduction of new – even small – improvements to an annual schedule, planned retreats or sporadic brainstorming?”
Be open to innovation every day, not just every now and then.
3. Innovation requires invention.
“You do not need to reinvent, just rethink,” say Ken and John. “And do it.”
The subtitle of the book alludes to a great example of this. Have you ever bought pre-cut fruits or vegetables in the produce section of your grocery store? (Me, too.)
“Slicing a melon” is a nod the supermarket industry, where grocers noticed — innovation starts with paying attention, remember? — that as the pace of life picked up, people were going for more prepared and take-out foods. In response, stores started offering sliced melons and other ready-to-eat options.
Again, innovation is not as complicated as we often make it out to be. You don’t have to be an Amazon, Apple, Google or Starbucks. What one little thing could you do to make life better for your customers? That one little thing might be all it takes to grow your business.
For a step-by-step process to help you and your team bring innovative ideas to life, pick up a copy of Cause a Disturbance (affiliate link). Or if you’re looking for a speaker to address your leadership team, click here to learn more about Ken Tencer’s programs on branding, innovation and business growth.