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The six commandments of innovation
by Jay Gutman
2016-08-11 10:18:55
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The six commandments of innovation

1. Keep track of social change

The video game industry emerged when computer aficionados noticed that a very common form of family was the nuclear family with a husband, a wife and two children or two boys. They noticed that some wives had trouble keeping an eye on their children while husbands could not quietly read their newspaper with the children running around.

inn01_400Back in the 70s most toys for adolescents involved some form of physical activity that was rather loud and potentially dangerous. So even though most fathers and mothers will swear that buying the video game station was a bad idea, in many cases it bought them peace and quiet in the house.

The personal computer was a spinoff of the business computer, where business kept track of accounting and drafted papers on business machines. The personal computer was invented at a time when two children were no longer the norm, though still common, but a single child was increasingly the norm in advanced countries. Unlike video games that can only keep someone company to a certain point, the personal computer offered a wide range of activities that could keep the single child busy.

Portable internet devices followed another revolution where an increasing number of cities and countries were connected by transportation networks that neared perfection. That enabled tourists and businessmen alike to stay connected while roaming cities and countries with their portable internet devices.

2. Don’t offend the customer

Some book stores are having trouble making ends meet because the tendency over the decades was to have larger and larger bookstores. In some societies, there is a stigma against reading, in others a stigma against reading certain books. Reading is also a pleasurable, silent activity. Many readers are not comfortable roaming alleys of books when surrounded by a crowd of other people, which was the intention of large bookstores.

Readers also often need peace and quiet when choosing a book to read and like to quietly look at the different titles before choosing a book. Crowds often make them lose focus when choosing their readings. Book stores are not struggling because people no longer read, but because selling books is traditionally a mom and pop business, and large, crowded bookstores can make some readers uncomfortable.

3. Make sure partners stay in the game

Sega and Nintendo were the two largest video game consoles in the 1990s. Nintendo opted for caution when innovating. Their graphics indeed weren’t top notch and used mostly two-dimensional graphics, while Sega wanted to outcompete Nintendo with better color techniques and three or four dimensional graphics.

The problem with three or four dimensional graphics back then is that games were incredibly tedious for programmers to program back in the day, and not many programmers were familiar with 3D or 4D programming. That meant a fewer choice of games for Sega, and games that were often way ahead of their time.

4. Make sure your target audience speaks your language

Mothers are the best cooks and bakers, but they’re not professional cooks and bakers. Every now and then producers of professional kitchen items or baking items will try to market such items to regular households. We’ve all seen the peelers, dicers, slicers or specialized culinary items. While those might help chefs who have to cook for hundreds of people an evening, mothers see little use in those.

Some producers also try to sell complicated items to professionals, such as complicated accounting software or customer tracking software. When developing software, make sure the target clients understand the language.

5. When it comes to losing face, the sooner the better

The photography business was a business shaken by constant innovation. From black and white to color, from large films to smaller ones to digital photography, from the passport-size picture and photo albums to digital albums.

If one of your employees comes up to you and says “boss, I think someone else has a better deal” the sooner you swallow the pill and start innovating, the longer you can stay in the game. Taking too much pride in your product can hurt in the long run.

6. Your product doesn’t represent your country

Unlike the Olympic Games where competitors have their country’s name spelled out on their jerseys, the country of origin of most products has very little correlation with its success potential. It’s the product’s usefulness that’s important rather than its country of origin.

It is true that business laws and norms and trade agreements are sometimes going to make it easier for the products of certain countries to make it further than others. Trade sanctions can prevent promising innovators from exporting their products while free trade agreements can lift barriers on such products. But products go through distributors and are chosen by clients, and the origin of the product gets lost somewhere along the way.

Governments can increase foreign businessmen to do prospection and to shop around for new products, but companies should refrain from insisting on the national origin of their product because it can be a weak argument in some cases, especially since some businessmen aren’t very good with geography.  

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