GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski
Creating new ideas is easy. Sit down, quiet your mind, and create a list of five new ideas. There. You’ve done it. Five new ideas. It didn’t take you a long time to create them. But ideas are cheap.
Converting ideas into sellable products and selling them is difficult and expensive. A customer wants to buy the new product when the underlying idea that powers the new product solves an important problem for them. In that way, ideas whose solutions don’t solve important problems aren’t good ideas. And in order to convert a good idea into a winning product, dirt, rocks, and sticks (natural resources) must be converted into parts and those parts must be assembled into products. That is expensive and time-consuming and requires a factory, tools, and people that know how to make things. And then the people that know how to sell things must apply their trade. This, too, adds to the difficulty and expense of converting ideas into winning products.
The only thing more expensive than converting new ideas into winning products is reusing your tired, old ideas until your offerings run out of sizzle. While you extend and defend, your competitors convert new ideas into new value propositions that bring shame to your offering and your brand. (To be clear, most extend-and-defend programs are actually defend-and-defend programs.) And while you reuse/leverage your long-in-the-tooth ideas, start-ups create whole new technologies from scratch (new ideas on a grand scale) and pull the rug out from under you. The trouble is that the ultra-high cost of extend-and-defend is invisible in the short term. In fact, when coupled with reuse, it’s highly profitable in the moment. It takes years for the wheels to fall off the extend-and-defend bus, but make no mistake, the wheels fall off.
When you find the urge to create a laundry list of new ideas, don’t. Instead, solve new problems for your customers. And when you feel the immense pressure to extend and defend, don’t. Instead, solve new problems for your customers.
And when all that gets old, repeat as needed.
Image credit: Unsplash
Sign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.