Imagine Your Next Innovation

Imagine Your Next InnovationSituation A

  • The economy has picked up, but your sales have dropped off.
  • Competitors’ products work better than yours.
  • Competitors’ product launches are more frequent than yours.
  • The number of competitors is increasing.
  • The sales team is angry – they cannot sell against competitors.
  • The product roadmap is more of the same.

The situation is clear – you’re behind your competitors, and they are accelerating. The action plan is clear – leapfrog your competitors.

Declare failure with the more-of-the-same product roadmap, and imagine a new one. The new one must leapfrog your competitors (though they’re accelerating). Imagine a new product roadmap that’s so radical it’s borderline ridiculous, that’s so outrageous you’re afraid to present it. (A sign it’s right on-the-mark.) Imagine one you have little to no idea how to do. Now, take the best of the ridiculous product roadmap and replace the oldest parts of the old one. Create a nice hybrid, and make it happen.

Situation A is tough because there is stress around the company’s future, and it’s easy because there’s a clear reason to innovate – company survival.

Situation B

  • The economy has dropped off, but your sales have picked up.
  • Your products work better than your competitors’.
  • Your product launches are more frequent than your competitors’.
  • There the number of competitors is decreasing.
  • The sales team is happy – they can sell against competitors.
  • The product roadmap is more of the same.

The situation is clear – you’re ahead of your competitors, and they are accelerating. The action plan is clear – leapfrog yourself.

Declare failure with the more-of-the-same product roadmap, and imagine a new one. The new one must leapfrog yourself (though you’re accelerating). Imagine a new product roadmap that’s so radical it’s borderline ridiculous, that’s so outrageous you’re afraid to present it. (A sign it’s right on-the-mark.) Imagine one you have little to no idea how to do. Now, take the best of the ridiculous product roadmap and replace the oldest parts of the old one. Create a nice hybrid, and make it happen.

Situation B is easy because there is no stress around the company’s future, and it’s difficult because there is no clear reason to innovate.

There’s no reason to argue which situation you’re in, no need to argue which is more difficult. Either way, leapfrog something.


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Mike ShipulskiDr. Mike Shipulski (certfied TRIZ practioner) brings together the best of TRIZ, Axiomatic Design, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (2006 DFMA Contributor of the Year), and lean to develop new products and technologies. His blog can be found at Shipulski On Design.

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