Many companies go through stagnant growth periods. They witness the market around them changing more rapidly than ever before while trying to gain a better understanding of how to play in these evolving market spaces.
Other companies, more innovative ones, use signals coupled with a healthy dose of shoshin to generate new ideas.
Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism which translates as “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, of eagerness, and to a lack of preconceptions. This is most relevant when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.
Signaling is the act of drawing products and ideas from the marketplace. They may initially seem counter intuitive when combined with your existing offering but, in reality, they creates something vastly different. They are able to catapult companies into a new dimension of value offerings and business model structures. Signaling can be used both at the front-end innovation stage where new value is being created but also in areas that support the business model, like pricing.
How do you know if a signal is worth your time and energy to bring into the organization? You must first understand the environment and behaviors your customers are contextualizing when evaluating and “consuming” your current offerings. Then you need to consider the impact of any new offering. How does it change the behavior of the user? Does is make things simpler, more pleasing”; Can they now do something they could never do before, creating a sense of delight for your user? These sound like simple concepts. But successfully creating, evaluating and introducing new ideas to the market without a lot of risk is the space of brilliance.
Just for fun, experiment with this approach. Practice it by coupling together things or concepts outside your area of expertise. That will maintain you in “shoshin mode”. Combine things that seem completely unrelated or do not seem to fit together and see what happens! For example, what could happen if you combined the ability to publish a book in 48 hours with the project-based education movement? Adolescents can become authors!
You can follow this same exercise and start identifying innovation and pricing signals. Take a look, for example, at what Procter & Gamble has done with their latest innovation called Tide Pods (http://beforeitsnews.com/business/2013/04/brand-innovation-the-best-category-killer-2503050.html).
They certainly disrupted the old detergent business model by recognizing a need for simplicity and ingredient integration in the space. Their intention was to change the behaviors with the use of detergent as well as introducing a new pricing anchor point. Can you learn from this disruptive value-based approach? Can you revisit your traditional business model and inject both value and innovation at the same time?
Lastly, it is important to emphasize that Procter & Gamble was probably willing to disrupt themselves and be first to market with a new game changing concept. Some would call this creative destruction? We prefer calling this process proactive creative disruption. Companies that are interested in how quickly markets change around them will want to pay close attention to this approach and adopt a dose of shoshin!
image credit: hidyochiai.org
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Stephan Liozu (www.stephanliozu.com) is the Founder of Value Innoruption Advisors and specializes in disruptive approaches in innovation, pricing and value management. He earned a PhD in Management at Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Richardson is a Game Changing Coach at Ennova Inc. (www.ennovainc.com) and specializes in game changing behaviors using the Shared Clarity System. She can be reached at email@example.com .