Category Archives: Apple

Harnessing the Scarcity Principle: Driving Innovation through Consumer Psychology

Harnessing the Scarcity Principle: Driving Innovation through Consumer Psychology

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s fast-evolving business landscape, innovation has become the lifeblood of success. In order to stay ahead of the competition, companies must continuously find new ways to captivate consumers and create lasting impact. One powerful strategy that businesses can employ is leveraging consumer psychology, specifically the scarcity principle. By understanding and harnessing this principle, companies can drive innovation and maintain a competitive edge. This article will explore the scarcity principle and its application in two compelling case studies, highlighting how it can be effectively utilized to spur innovation.

The Scarcity Principle:

The scarcity principle, rooted in human psychology, states that people perceive scarce resources as being more valuable and desirable. When a product or service is scarce or perceived as limited, it creates a sense of urgency and triggers a fear of missing out (FOMO). This psychological phenomenon drives consumers to take immediate action, leading to increased demand and a willingness to pay a premium.

Case Study 1: Apple and Limited Edition Products

Apple Inc. has mastered the art of harnessing the scarcity principle to drive innovation and maintain a fiercely dedicated consumer base. Their approach revolves around the strategic release of limited edition products. For instance, they frequently launch new iPhone models with specific color variations, available in limited quantities. This scarcity tactic generates enormous buzz and compels consumers to line up outside Apple stores, eager to get their hands on the exclusive product. By leveraging the scarcity principle, Apple continues to innovate and maintain remarkable consumer loyalty.

Case Study 2: Supreme and Streetwear Hype

Supreme, the iconic streetwear brand, has garnered a cult-like following by skillfully exploiting the scarcity principle. Their business model revolves around producing limited quantities of products and maintaining an aura of exclusivity. Supreme creates an air of frenzy through limited drops of apparel items and accessories, coupled with secretive release information. This meticulously crafted approach creates scarcity, leading to long queues outside their stores and an immediate sell-out of their products. The brand’s masterful utilization of the scarcity principle fuels innovation in every collection release.

Harnessing the Scarcity Principle for Innovation:

The scarcity principle can be harnessed beyond the release of limited edition products. Companies can tap into this psychological phenomenon to drive innovation across various aspects of their business.

1. Limited Time Offers: Implementing time-limited promotions or discounts can be an effective strategy to create a sense of urgency and drive sales. Businesses can offer exclusive deals to a limited number of customers or for a specific timeframe, leveraging scarcity to spur innovation in marketing tactics.

2. Membership Programs: Implementing a membership-based model with exclusive benefits can tap into consumers’ desire for exclusivity. By offering limited spots or restricted access to events, content, or perks, companies can foster innovation by continuously enhancing the membership experience.


Innovation is critical for businesses to thrive in the competitive marketplace. By understanding and harnessing the scarcity principle, companies can drive innovation through consumer psychology. The strategic application of scarcity can create a sense of urgency, trigger FOMO, and lead to increased demand and loyalty. Through case studies on Apple and Supreme, we observed how brands effectively employed the scarcity principle to maintain their competitive edge and inspire innovation. By implementing limited-time offers and membership programs, businesses can successfully leverage scarcity, fostering innovation across various facets of their operations. Embracing the scarcity principle allows companies to tap into the power of consumer psychology and take their innovation game to new heights.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Pexels

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Apple Watch Must Die

At least temporarily, because it’s proven bad for innovation

Apple Watch Must Die

by Braden Kelley

I came across an article in The Hill, titled ‘Apple flexes lobbying power as Apple Watch ban comes before Biden next week‘ that highlighted how Apple has been found guilty by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) of infringing upon the intellectual property of startup AliveCor to provide its wearable electrocardiogram features in its Apple Watch.

Apple is now trying to get President Biden to veto the ruling (I didn’t know that was a thing) so that they can keep selling Apple Watches. In my opinion this is a matter for the courts and yet another example of how big tech (and big companies in general) far too often brazenly misappropriate the intellectual property of the little guys. So much so in Apple’s case that over the last 30+ years a popular term has emerged for it called ‘Sherlocking’.

According to the new Microsoft Bing (with ChatGPT):

Sherlocking is a term that refers to Apple’s practice of copying features from third-party apps and integrating them into its own software¹². The term originated from a search tool named Sherlock that Apple developed in the late 90s and later updated to include features from a similar app named Watson²³.

President Biden must let the courts do their job and not intervene if innovation is to thrive in America.

Apple has been found guilty by the ITC and should be forced to stop selling Apple Watches if that is what the court has decided. They should pay damages and redesign their product to design out the intellectual property theft. And, if they feel they are innocent, then they have an avenue of appeal and should exercise it.

But, bottom line, turning a blind eye to intellectual property theft is bad for innovation. We must encourage and protect entrepreneurship for innovation to thrive.

I’ll leave you with this clip from the movie Tucker to ponder on the way out:

And a trailer from probably the best movie on the subject of the struggle of the innovator against big business, based on the real life story of the inventor of the intermittent wiper – Dr. Robert Kearns, it’s called ‘Flash of Genius’:

Hopefully President Biden will stay out of it and let the courts decide based on the evidence.

Keep innovating!

SPECIAL UPDATE: On February 21, 2023 the Biden Administration elected NOT to veto the ITC ruling, leaving the courts to decide whether Apple is innocent or guilty.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 2/18/2023
(1) Apple ‘Sherlocking’ Highlighted in Antitrust Probe—Google Also …. Accessed 2/18/2023.
(2) What Does It Mean When Apple “Sherlocks” an App? – How-To Geek. Accessed 2/18/2023.
(3) Sherlock (software) – Wikipedia. Accessed 2/18/2023.
(4) All the things Apple Sherlocked at WWDC 2022 – TechCrunch. Accessed 2/18/2023.

Image credit: Pexels

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A Startup’s Guide to Marketing Communications

A Startup's Guide to Marketing Communications

GUEST POST from Steve Blank

I was having coffee with the CEO of a new startup, listening to her puzzle through how to communicate to potential customers. She was an academic on leave from Stanford now selling SAAS software to large companies, but was being inundated with marketing communications advice. “My engineers say our website is old school, and we need to be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, my VP of Sales says we’re wasting our marketing dollars not targeting the right people and my board keeps giving me their opinions of how we should describe our product and company. How do I sort out what to do?”

She winced as I reminded her that she had gone through the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps. “Painful and invaluable” was her reply. I reminded her that all the Lean tools she learned in class–Customer Discovery, business model and value proposition canvases– contained her answer.

Here’s how.

Define the Mission of Marketing Communications

Companies often confuse communications tactics (“What should my webpage look like or should I be using Facebook/Instagram/Twitter?”) with a strategy. A communications strategy answers the question, “Why are we doing these activities?” For example, our goal could be:

  1. Create demand for our products and drive it into our sales channel
  2. Create awareness of our company and brand for potential customers
  3. Create awareness for fundraising (VC, angels, corporate partners)
  4. Create awareness for potential acquirers of our company

(Marketing communications is a subset of the Marketing department’s mission. Read the post about mission and intent here.)

Audience(s), Message, Media, Messenger

Once you figure out why you’re creating a communications strategy then you can figure out how to use it. The “how” requires just four steps:

  1. Understand your audience(s)
  2. Craft the message for that specific audience
  3. Select the media you want the message to be read/seen/heard on
  4. Select the messenger you want to carry your message

Audiences Message Media Messenger Steve Blank

Step 1: Who’s the Audience(s)?

An audience means – who specifically you want your messages to reach. Is it all the people on earth? Everyone in San Francisco? Potential customers such as gamers who like to play specific types of games? Or people inside companies with a specific title, like product or program managers, CIOs, etc? Venture Capitalists who may want to invest? Other companies that may want to acquire you?

What’s confusing is that often there are multiple audiences you want to communicate with. So, refer to your strategy: Are you trying to reach potential customers or potential investors and acquirers? These are very different audiences, each requires its own messages, media and messengers.

If you’re selling a product to a company, for example, is the audience the user of the product? Her boss? The person who has the budget? The CEO?

How do you figure out who the audience is? It turns out that if you’ve been doing customer discovery and using the value proposition canvas, you know a lot about each customer/ beneficiary. The first step is to put all those value proposition canvases on the wall to remind you that these are the people you need to reach.

Steve Blank Value Prop ExamplesHow do you figure out which of these customers/beneficiaries is most important? Who’s the least important? If you’ve been out talking to customers, you will have an idea of who’s involved in the buying process. Who’s the user of product? The recommender? The decision maker? The saboteur? As you map out what you learned about the role each of these customers plays in the buying process, marketing communications and sales can decide which one of the customers/beneficiaries is the primary audience of your messages. (And they can decide if there any secondary audiences you should reach.) Often there are multiple people in a sales process worth influencing.

If you’re trying to reach potential acquirers or investors, the customer discovery process is the same. Spend time building value proposition canvases for these audiences.

Step 2: What’s the Message?

Messages are what you delivering to the audience(s) you’ve selected. Messages answer three questions:

  1. Why should the audience care?
  2. What are you offering?
  3. What’s the call to action?

Your customers have already told you how to craft the first part of your message. The answer to “Why should your audience care?” comes directly from the pains and gains on the right side of the value proposition canvas.

And the answer to the second question “What are you offering?” comes from the left side of the value proposition canvas. It’s not just the product feature list, but the pain relievers and gain creators.

Once you get your audience to read your message, then what? What’s the call to action? Do you want them to download a demo, schedule a sales call, visit a physical store location or a website, download an app, click for more information, give you their email address, etc.? Your message needs to include a specific call to action.

Other things to keep in mind about messages:

Message Context

A message that is brilliant today and gets the press writing about you and customers begging to buy your product could have been met with blank stares two years ago and may be obsolete next year. In crafting your messages, remember that all messages operate in a context that may have an expiration date. Netbooks, 3DTVs, online classes disrupting higher ed, all had their moment in time. Make sure your context is current and revisit your messages periodically to see if they still work.

Sticky Messages

Messages also need to be memorable – “sticky.” Why? Because the more memorable the message, the greater its ability to create change. Not only do we want people to change their buying behavior, we also want them to change how they think. (This is often a tough concept for engineering founders who believe that if we just tell customers about the features that make their product faster, cheaper, etc. they’ll win.)

Consider that if you were told you were going to pay for cold, dead fish wrapped in seaweed you might not be too hungry. But when we call it sushi people line up.

The same goes for a hamburger. You may eat a lot of them, but if McDonald’s message was “dead cow, slaughtered by the millions, butchered by minimum wage earners, then ground into patties, frozen into solid blocks, and reheated when you order them,” instead of “You deserve a break today,” sales might be a tad lower.

Product versus Company Messages

There is a difference between detailed product messages versus messages about your company. At times, you may have to communicate what the company stands for before a customer is ready to listen to you talk about product messages. For example, to outflank a competitor who had faster products, Intel moved the conversation about microprocessors away from speed and technology to create a valued brand. They created the “Intel Inside” campaign.

Apple was trying to resurrect a then-dying company by reminding people what Apple stood for with their “Think Different” ad campaign:

Both Apple and Intel were selling complicated technology but did so by simplifying the message so it had broad emotional appeal. Both Intel Inside and Think Different became sticky corporate messages.

Step 3: Media

Media means the type of communications media each audience member reads/listens to/watches. Is could be print (newspapers/magazine), Internet (website, podcasts, etc.), broadcast (TV, radio, etc.) or social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). In customer discovery, you asked prospects how they get information about new companies and new products. (If not, get back out and do so!) The media your prospective customers told you they use ought to be on top of your target media.

The online media your company controls (your corporate website, company Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) should be the first place you experiment finding your audience(s) and message.

Typically, you pick several media to reach each audience. It’s likely that each audience reads different media (potential customers read something very different than potential investors.) You’ll need a media strategy – a plan that describes the mix of media and how you will use it. This plan should include the category of media; print, internet, broadcast and then identify specific sites, blogs, magazine, etc.

Step 4: Messengers

Messengers are the well-placed and highly leveraged individuals who have influence over your audience(s). Messengers convey and amplify your message to your audience through the media you’ve chosen.

There are four types of messengers: reporters, experts, evangelists and connectors. (Each audience will have its own unique set of messengers.)

1. Reporters are paid by specific media to write about news. Which reporters you should talk to comes from discovering which media your audience has said they read. Your goal is to identify who are the reporters in the media your audience reads and what they write about, and to figure out why they should write about you. (Wrong answer – because we have a new product. Very wrong answer – because my CEO wants to be on the cover of publication X or Y.)

2. Experts know your industry or product in detail, and others rely on them for their opinions. Experts may be industry analysts in private research firms (Gartner, NPD, AMR), Wall Street research analysts (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs), consultants who provide advice for your industry or bloggers with wide followings. Experts may even be potential customers who run user groups that other potential customers turn to for advice.

(Today some reporters are experts – product reviewers in the Tech Section of the Wall Street Journal, or the Technology section of the New York Times (or its product review site Wirecutter)).

3. Evangelists are unabashed cheerleaders and salespeople for your product and, if you are creating a new market, for your company vision. They tell everyone how great the product is and about the unlimited potential of your product and market. While nominally carrying less credibility than experts, evangelists have two advantages: typically, they are paying customers, and they are incredibly enthusiastic about what they say. (Evangelists are not customers who will give a reference. A customer reference is something you have to twist arms to get; an evangelist is someone you can’t get off the phone.)

4. Connectors are individuals who seem to know everyone. Each industry has a few. They may be bloggers who expound on the general state of your industry and write magazine or newspaper columns. They may be individuals who organize and hold conferences where the key industry thought leaders gather. Often, they themselves are the thought leaders.

Founders ask me all the time whether they should hire a PR agency. I tell them, “The question isn’t if. The question is when?” Influencing the messengers is what great public relations firms know how to do. They may have their own language describing who the messengers are (e.g., “influencers”) and how they manage them (e.g. “information chain”), but once you’ve done a first pass of the audience > message > media > messenger, a competent PR firm can add tremendous value.

Customer Discovery Never Stops

Understanding your audience(s) is important for not just startups, but for companies already selling products. It helps you stay current with customers, get ideas for other needs to fill and to create new products. In addition, the audience > message > media > messenger cycle seamlessly moves this learning into getting, keeping and growing customers. Today, Marketing Automation tools (customer analytics, SEO, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms) generate customer behavior history about what messages worked on which media. These tools generate data that companies use to feed AdTech tools (demand-side platforms, ad exchanges and networks) to automate selling and buying of online ads.

Communications as a Force Multiplier

  • Smart CEOs treat communications as a force multiplier for sales, a tool to dramatically increase valuation and the vehicle to get acquirers lined up at the door. Not so successful CEOs treat it as tactic that can be handed to others.
  • Hiring a PR agency too early is a sign that the CEO is treating this as someone else’s problem. In a startup, the first pass of understanding Audience, Message, Media, Messenger can only be done with the founders/CEO engaged.
  • Getting publicity for a product that does not yet exist is how startups get noticed. But don’t fall victim to your own reality distortion field and hype a product that can never be made (think of Tesla versus Theranos.)
  • Figuring out who the possible audiences are, what messages to send, and what media to use, feels overwhelming at first. The temptation is to try to reach all the audiences with a single message and a single media. That’s a going out of business strategy. Use Customer Discovery, and your customers will teach you who they are, what to say to them and how to reach them.

Lessons Learned

  • Marketing Communications = Audience, Message, Media, Messenger
  • Use the Value Proposition Canvas to understand who your audience(s) are
  • Craft messages to match what your audience has already told you
  • Pick the media they said they read
  • Find the right messengers to amplify your message

The full article originally appeared on Steve Blank’s blog

Image credits: Pixabay, Steve Blank

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Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability?

Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability?Quality used to mean something to companies.

A century ago, when people parted with their hard-earned money to buy something, they expected it to last one or more lifetimes.

Durability was a key design criteria.

But, as the stock market became more central to the American psyche and to executive compensation, the quality of available products and services began to decline in the name of profits above all else.


Ford Quality is job oneThere was a temporary consumer revolt decades ago that resulted in companies pretending that quality was more important than profits, but it didn’t last long. In the end, Americans accepted the decline in quality as outsourcing and globalization led to declining prices (and of course higher profits) and fewer goods carrying the “Made in the USA” label, quickly replaced by Japan, China, Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the rest.

An Inconvenient TruthAround the turn of the century we had the birth of the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) movement followed a few years later by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps people were beginning to wake up to the fact that our planet’s resources are not infinite and our culture of disposability was catching up to us.

But these movements failed to maintain their momentum and the tidal wave of stores stocking disposable goods continued unabated – dollar stores and party stores spread across the country like a virus. States like New York began shipping their garbage across borders as their landfills reached capacity. Unsold goods began being dumped on the African continent and elsewhere (think about all those t-shirts printed up for the team that didn’t end up winning the Super Bowl).

Is now the time for the winds to shift yet again in favor of quality and sustainability after decades of disposability?

Will more companies better embrace sustainability like Patagonia is attempting to do?

People have been complaining for years about the high cost to repair Apple products and the increasing difficulty of executing these repairs oneself. Recently Apple was FORCED by shareholder activists to allow people to repair their iPhones. Here is their press release that tries to put a positive spin on what they were pressured into doing.

This is the moment for shareholder activists and governments around the world to force companies to design for repairability, reuse and a true accounting of the costs of their products and services inflict upon the populace and the planet. The European Union and Mexico are working together towards this not just because the planet needs this, but because The Circular Economy Creates New Business Opportunities.

Meanwhile, Toyota recently announced that starting this year (2022) in Japan that they will retrofit late-model cars with new technology if the customer desires it. The company aims to let motorists benefit from new technology without having to buy a new car. The LoraxToyota calls this “uppgrading” and defines it as retrofitting safety and convenience functions, like blind spot monitoring, emergency braking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and the addition of a hands-free tailgate or trunk lid. Remodeling will also be an option and will include replacing worn or damaged parts inside and out, such as the upholstery, the seat cushions, and the steering wheel.

Are these two companies voluntary and involuntary actions the beginning of a trend – finally?

Or will the culture of disposability continue unabated until our natural resources are exhausted?

Do we truly live in the land of the Lorax?

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, OldHouseOnline

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Case Studies: Successful Innovations Driven by Collaboration

Case Studies: Successful Innovations Driven by Collaboration

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced and rapidly evolving world, successful organizations understand that innovation is crucial for staying ahead of the competition. However, innovation is not a one-person job. It requires collaboration and the ability to bring together diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences. This is where case studies of successful innovations driven by collaboration come into play.

Case Study 1: Apple and Nike Partnership

One such example is the partnership between Apple and Nike that led to the creation of the Nike+ running sensor. Apple, known for its sleek design and innovative technology, collaborated with Nike, a leader in athletic apparel and footwear, to create a product that revolutionized the way people track their workouts. By combining Apple’s expertise in technology with Nike’s knowledge of the fitness industry, the two companies were able to create a product that seamlessly integrated into users’ lives and provided valuable data to help them improve their performance.

Case Study 2: IBM and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Another example of successful innovation driven by collaboration is the partnership between IBM and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. By combining IBM’s artificial intelligence technology with the healthcare expertise of Memorial Sloan Kettering, the two organizations were able to develop a cognitive computing system that assists doctors in diagnosing and treating cancer more effectively. This collaboration has led to faster and more accurate diagnoses, ultimately improving patient outcomes.


These case studies showcase the power of collaboration in driving successful innovation. By working together, companies can leverage their respective strengths to create groundbreaking products and services that have a positive impact on society. As we continue to navigate a world that is increasingly interconnected, it is essential for organizations to embrace collaboration as a key driver of innovation. The success stories of Apple and Nike, as well as IBM and Memorial Sloan Kettering, serve as powerful examples of what can be achieved when companies come together to solve complex problems and drive positive change.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Unsplash

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The Power of Collaboration

Creating Cross-Functional Teams for Innovative Ideas

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s fast-paced and rapidly changing business environment, collaboration has become more important than ever. No longer can organizations survive by staying siloed in their respective departments. Instead, successful companies are embracing the power of cross-functional teams to foster innovative ideas and drive growth.

What is a cross-functional team?

A cross-functional team consists of individuals from different departments or areas of expertise within an organization who come together to work on a specific project or problem. These teams are typically diverse, with members bringing a range of perspectives, skills, and knowledge to the table. By blending expertise from various disciplines, cross-functional teams are able to tackle complex challenges and drive creative solutions.

The Benefits of Cross-Functional Teams

One of the key benefits of cross-functional teams is their ability to break down communication barriers within an organization. By bringing together individuals from different departments, teams are able to bridge gaps and foster a culture of openness and collaboration. This can lead to increased productivity, improved decision-making, and more innovative ideas.

Additionally, cross-functional teams are better equipped to tackle complex problems that require diverse skill sets. By leveraging the expertise of team members from different areas, organizations can develop more comprehensive solutions that take into account a variety of perspectives.

Case Study 1: Apple Inc.

A prime example of the power of cross-functional teams can be seen at tech giant Apple Inc. Known for its innovation and sleek design, Apple relies heavily on cross-functional teams to drive product development. For example, the development of the iPhone involved collaboration between engineers, designers, marketers, and supply chain experts. By bringing together individuals with different backgrounds and expertise, Apple was able to create a groundbreaking product that revolutionized the smartphone industry.

Case Study 2: Google X

Another example of successful cross-functional team collaboration can be found at Google X, the company’s secretive research and development lab. Google X is home to some of the company’s most ambitious projects, including self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons. These projects are the result of cross-functional teams composed of engineers, scientists, designers, and business experts working together to push the boundaries of technology and innovation.


The power of collaboration through cross-functional teams cannot be understated. By breaking down traditional departmental barriers and fostering a culture of openness and collaboration, organizations can drive innovation, improve decision-making, and drive growth. As demonstrated by companies like Apple and Google X, the benefits of cross-functional teams are clear. As businesses navigate an increasingly complex and competitive landscape, investing in cross-functional teams is essential for staying ahead of the curve and driving success in the long run.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Pexels

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Can You Be TOO Strategic?

Can You Be TOO Strategic?

GUEST POST from Howard Tiersky

While the lack of a clear strategy can create problems in any business, there is another end of that spectrum.

Having a strategy means having clarity on what you want to achieve and a plan on how to get there. These are good things, but it’s also possible to be too strategic—too focused on a single goal and plan.

When Being TOO Strategic is a Problem

1. You Have an Ineffective Plan

What if you have a plan for reaching your goal but it doesn’t work? You could be putting all your eggs in one basket.

In some cases, you may be able to determine very quickly if your strategy isn’t working. That’s one of the beauties of digital. For example, with ecommerce, you can try a new email subject line and within a few hours (or even minutes) you can see whether people are responding to it.

There are other strategies, however, that demonstrate their effectiveness over time. A program that is designed to build relationships to drive more long-term customer loyalty is an example of a strategy that you won’t be able to determine the success of overnight.

Regardless of whether your plan can be evaluated quickly, if you put all your eggs in one strategic basket, there’s always the possibility that you’re wrong about the method to achieve your goal.

2. You Set the Wrong Goal

There’s also the possibility that you have either the wrong goal or a goal that’s not optimal.

No matter what group of consumers you choose to target, things can change quickly; it may turn out that you haven’t chosen a good target at all.

For example, think about when COVID-19 first disrupted our world. Consumers’ needs and habits changed because of the pandemic, which caused many companies to adjust their goals because their original goals were no longer going to bring successful outcomes. If you stayed laser focused on the goal of increasing the number of shoppers coming to your store each day amidst the pandemic, you were a little too strategically disciplined.

Even in less extreme cases, there are still situations where leaders fail to see new trends and opportunities for growth.

Blockbuster VideoBlockbuster is a great example of a company that had the wrong goal in mind. They were so hyper focused on putting a video rental store in every neighborhood that they failed to see the potential opportunity in digital streaming services.

Netflix, on the other hand, did an excellent job seeing that opportunity and successfully transformed from the DVD rental by mail service to the popular digital streaming service consumers love today.

There’s always the risk that either you’re pursuing the wrong destination or the wrong means to get there. And what do you do then? You have the opportunity to say, “Maybe I shouldn’t be 100% strategic.”

Often, mistakes and variability promote evolution and growth in a company, so it’s important to determine what percentage of your business should be based on strategy and what percentage should be based on trying new and different things which may not align with the current official strategy.

3. Consider a Balanced Approach

Ideally, find a balance of mostly strategic activities, but carve out some time for non-strategic activity to allow employees to be creative and freely come up with new ideas that just might turn into something great.

An example of a company who does this well and has seen success come out of this strategy is Google. Google offers “20% time,” which allows each employee to spend 20% of their work time on independent projects they feel will benefit Google in the long run without having to justify it to anyone.

This freedom promotes innovation and creativity, making employees feel like their work and input really matters to the company. Many of Google’s widely known products have come out of this non-strategic time, such as Gmail and Google Maps.

Another area of business that often takes a balanced approach to strategy is Research and Development (R&D). R&D teams are typically made up of creative and original thinkers; they may be faced with problems that they’re fascinated by and are trying to solve. It’s not always clear how solving that problem is going to help the company right away, but some of the world’s greatest innovations have come out of R&D departments.

For example, at Bell Labs, the transistor was invented by people who were fascinated by the way materials could be used to control electricity. It wasn’t clear when they were doing that original research exactly how the product would be used; it was much later that the potential was realized for commercial applications such as the microchip

Another example is Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple. When the Apple ][ computer was at its height, it was the main focus of the company and where all the money was coming from. The long term success of the Apple ][ platform was the strategic focus of the company.

At the time, in order to politically sideline him, Jobs was assigned to work on a seemingly non-strategic project, which was the Apple Macintosh, originally intended as a product for the education market. As successful as the Apple ][ was, ultimately, the innovation that came from launching the Macintosh massively eclipsed the Apple ][ and is a key product line to this day. Thank goodness for a non-strategic project.

4. It Might Be Worth It to Pursue a “Moonshot Idea”

It can be beneficial to allow a certain amount of time to work on complete “moonshot ideas”—
ideas that are highly risky but could change the company or the industry as a whole if they’re successful.

While these grand ideas have only proven to be occasionally successful, the payoff can be so huge when they do succeed that they are worth pursuing.

The bottom line is that you want to be good at being strategic, but not get so caught up in being so strategic that you miss out on a great opportunity for growth and success in your company that may not align with your strategy.

Parting Gift

My Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, contains a blueprint for developing a successful strategy for your company as well as practices to aid in identifying new trends and opportunities to explore. You can download the first chapter for free here or purchase the book here.

Image credits: Pixabay and Unsplash

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Design Thinking in Product Development

Driving Success through User-centric Design

Design Thinking in Product Development: Driving Success through User-centric Design

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive market, businesses can no longer solely rely on creating products based on assumptions or mere technical feasibility. Instead, they need to embrace a user-centric approach that prioritizes the needs and desires of their target audience. This is where design thinking comes into play. Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that emphasizes empathy, ideation, prototyping, and continuous iteration. By incorporating design thinking principles into product development, businesses can drive success by delivering products that truly resonate with their users. In this article, we will explore the concept of design thinking and present two case studies that exemplify its effectiveness in creating successful products.

Case Study 1: Apple iPhone – Revolutionizing the Smartphone Industry

The Apple iPhone serves as a remarkable example of how design thinking can drive success in product development. Before the iPhone was introduced in 2007, smartphones were typically bulky, complicated, and lacked an intuitive user interface. Apple understood the need for a revolutionary design that prioritized the user experience. By immersing themselves in the lives of potential users and empathizing with their frustrations, Apple’s team of designers identified key pain points such as complex navigation, limited functionality, and lack of touch-based interaction.

Applying the principles of design thinking, Apple ideated and prototyped various concepts until they arrived at the iconic iPhone design. They focused on simplicity, ease of use, and intuitive gestures, leading to the creation of a touchscreen interface that eliminated the need for physical keyboards. The iPhone’s user-centric design not only won over millions of users but also disrupted the entire smartphone industry. By prioritizing the needs and desires of users, Apple achieved unprecedented success and set new standards for smartphone design.

Case Study 2: Airbnb – Revolutionizing the Hospitality Industry

Airbnb, the popular accommodation platform, utilized design thinking to redefine the hospitality industry. The founders of Airbnb recognized that travelers were seeking unique, affordable, and personalized experiences rather than sterile hotel rooms. By observing potential users and conducting in-depth interviews, they empathized with the pain points of both guests and hosts, including lack of trust, limited options, and cumbersome booking processes.

Applying design thinking principles, Airbnb ideated innovative solutions that addressed these pain points. They created a platform that connected hosts and guests, allowing users to personalize their travel experiences. To instill trust, Airbnb introduced user profiles, reviews, and secure payment systems.

Furthermore, Airbnb continuously iterated its platform based on user feedback, driving greater success. This user-centric approach revolutionized the hospitality industry, empowering individuals to monetize their spaces and providing travelers with unique, affordable, and authentic accommodations.


Design thinking offers a powerful framework for businesses to optimize product development processes. The case studies of Apple iPhone and Airbnb demonstrate how incorporating the principles of design thinking leads to successful, user-centric products. By empathizing with users, identifying pain points, and continuously iterating, businesses can deliver products that not only meet but exceed user expectations. As the market becomes increasingly user-driven, organizations that embrace design thinking have a competitive edge in driving success through user-centric design.

SPECIAL BONUS: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Change Leadership

Developing the Skills and Mindset to Drive Successful Change

Change Leadership: Developing the Skills and Mindset to Drive Successful Change

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Change is inevitable in today’s fast-paced business environment. Effective change leadership is crucial for organizations to navigate through complex transformations successfully. Change leaders are those who possess both the skills and mindset necessary to drive successful change initiatives. In this thought leadership article, we will explore the essence of change leadership and delve into two notable case studies that exemplify the power of developing these skills and mindset.

Case Study 1: Apple Inc. – Steve Jobs’ Reinvention

Apple Inc., under the visionary leadership of Steve Jobs, serves as a prime example of change leadership. After a period of stagnation and declining sales in the late 1990s, Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 to revitalize the company. He recognized the need for a significant change in the company’s product portfolio and overall strategy.

Jobs’ first step was to shift Apple’s focus from a hardware-centric to a user-centric approach. He emphasized simplicity, innovation, and design as the core principles guiding the company’s product development. Jobs leveraged his mastery of storytelling to communicate this shift effectively, inspiring both his employees and customers.

Internally, Jobs fostered a culture of relentless passion and dedication to excellence. He instilled a sense of urgency and encouraged free-thinking across all levels of the organization. By developing a shared vision and empowering his team, Jobs successfully led Apple’s transformation into a global leader, revolutionizing industries with iconic devices like the iPhone and iPad.

This case study highlights the importance of change leadership in driving profound organizational transformations. Creating a clear vision, inspiring a sense of purpose, and fostering a culture of innovation are all critical components that change leaders must possess.

Case Study 2: General Electric (GE) – Jack Welch’s Cultural Revolution

Another exemplary case study of change leadership is Jack Welch’s tenure as CEO of General Electric (GE) from 1981 to 2001. Welch recognized that GE needed a significant cultural overhaul to thrive in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

He initiated a relentless commitment to enhancing GE’s operational efficiency, relentlessly pushing for change throughout the organization. Welch championed the concept of “boundaryless” behavior, encouraging open communication and collaboration across diverse teams and departments. He saw the need for a flatter hierarchical structure that empowered employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

Welch implemented the highly influential “Rank and Yank” policy, where the bottom-performing 10% of employees were consistently removed. This critical decision, while controversial, created a strong sense of urgency and accountability, ultimately fostering a culture of high performance and continuous improvement.

Under Welch’s leadership, GE transformed from a bureaucratic conglomerate into a lean and agile powerhouse, positioning itself at the forefront of various industries.

This case study emphasizes the significance of a change leader’s ability to create a culture that embraces continuous improvement and empowers employees. Driving change requires not only a strategic vision but also the cultivation of a positive and supportive environment that incentivizes innovation and risk-taking.


Change leadership is imperative for organizations seeking successful transformations in today’s business landscape. By examining the case studies of Apple Inc. under Steve Jobs’ reinvention and General Electric’s cultural revolution led by Jack Welch, we observe the critical attributes of effective change leaders. These attributes include a strong vision, effective communication, inspiring storytelling, fostering a culture of innovation, and empowering employees. Through developing the necessary skills and mindset, individuals can become change leaders capable of driving successful change, shaping the future direction of businesses, and fostering growth and innovation.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Innovating Customer Engagement

Design Thinking in the Retail Industry

Innovating Customer Engagement

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s competitive retail landscape, delivering exceptional customer engagement has become a critical component of success. Design thinking, an iterative problem-solving approach that focuses on understanding customers’ needs, has emerged as a powerful tool for driving innovation in the retail industry. By employing design thinking principles, retailers can re-imagine the customer experience, forge deeper connections, and achieve sustainable growth. This article explores the application of design thinking in the retail industry, highlighting its transformative potential through two compelling case studies.

Case Study 1: Apple Store

Apple’s iconic retail stores have been widely acclaimed for their innovative design and seamless customer experience. By applying design thinking principles, Apple revolutionized the concept of retail shopping, blending technology, customer-centricity, and immersive engagement. The company understood that customers’ shopping preferences had evolved, wherein they sought not just products but also a personalized experience. With this insight, Apple designed their stores to be more than mere transactional spaces; they became forums for creativity, learning, and community building.

Apple’s use of design thinking is evident in the layout of its stores. By placing products on tables at ideal browsing height, customers are encouraged to pick up and interact with them freely. The design language incorporates simplicity and minimalism, allowing customers to focus solely on the products and their user experience. Additionally, Apple Store employees, known as “Geniuses,” utilize empathetic communication and expert knowledge to guide customers through their purchasing journey, further enhancing engagement.

By adopting design thinking principles, Apple effectively transformed its stores into inviting, educational, and experiential spaces. Consequently, customers don’t simply buy Apple products; they engage with the brand, explore its ecosystem, and benefit from the unique experience the store offers.

Case Study 2: Nike

Nike, the global sporting goods giant, has successfully integrated design thinking to redefine the way customers interact with their brand. Recognizing that athletes consider their shoes not just as products, but as tools for enhancing performance and expressing their identity, Nike embarked on an innovation journey driven by customer empathy.

One standout example of Nike’s design thinking approach is their NikeID customization platform. By emphasizing customer co-creation, Nike empowered customers to design their own footwear, resulting in personalized, one-of-a-kind products. This initiative enabled Nike to tap into customers’ desire for self-expression, fostering deeper connections and enhancing brand loyalty.

Furthermore, Nike engaged in extensive ethnographic research to uncover athletes’ specific needs and pain points. Armed with these insights, Nike launched the Nike+ Run Club, a mobile app that offers personalized training plans, tracks performance, and provides a supportive digital community. By blending technology, design, and data-driven insights, Nike effectively created an ecosystem catering to athletes’ multifaceted needs, revolutionizing the way they engage with the brand.


The retail industry’s rapid evolution necessitates innovative approaches to customer engagement. Design thinking, with its human-centric principles, serves as a powerful catalyst in this regard, enabling retailers to re-imagine the customer experience. Through the case studies of Apple and Nike, we witness how design thinking has transformed retail giants into facilitators of exceptional experiences, driving customer engagement to new heights. By adopting design thinking methodologies, retailers in the ever-evolving retail landscape can revolutionize their approach, fostering deep customer connections, and positioning themselves as industry leaders.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

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