By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
Is your company trying to chart a path forward with your innovation efforts, but you’re feeling stuck?
Or, have your product innovation efforts gone the way of the telephone pictured above?
If you’re in this boat, here are five tips you can use to get back on track, all centered around the idea of thinking outside the box:
1. Transform Products through New Additions
Try combining your product with something different to make something new, e.g., a cell phone with a flashlight, a watch with linked cell phone technology, to name a few.
2. Examine Existing Patents for New Ideas
Search patents in your field. What ideas can you put into practice from active patents that could achieve the same end goal? Are any expiring that you could use that method? Are there some that you could license?
3. Eliminate to Innovate
Is there a way to remove something that can make your product better? Amazon displaced the need to visit a bookstore, Dell eliminated the computer store, and the Sony Walkman eliminated speakers and record functions.
4. Find a New Way to Use Your Product
Think of different applications for an existing product. An excellent example of this is De Beers—they decided to focus on engagement rings when they had only produced industrial diamonds. Doing so was a game-changer for them.
5. Look to the Past
Are there any methods, products, or services that were in use years ago in your market space that could inspire developing something new? For instance, speed dating is a relaunch of a Victorian dance format where ladies had cards marked with appointments.
And just because you’ve read through all five, here’s a bonus tip:
6. Bring in Experts
If your company lacks bandwidth, contract with someone for identified projects, or if you’re not sure where to start, think about bringing someone in who’s skilled in innovation consulting.
Speaking of outside help, if you're feeling stuck and could use some assistance, I would love to brainstorm some ideas with you! We can help point out some areas where you could improve your profitability and increase innovation.
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