If marketers have one failing (just one you ask?) it is our love of lists. Marketing’s 4 P’s (price, product, place, promotion) morphed into longer lists of p-words that seemed to work on the principle of ‘My list is longer than your list.’ (add power, people, performance, presence, pr,…) Long lists successfully masked the larger universality of the original 4 P’s adding to the departmentalization of marketing. So to try and reclaim lost ground we get holistic marketing from Kotler/Keller (no list slouch themselves) and the 3 V’s.
Marketing involves satisfying consumers’ known (and subconscious unknown) needs. The 3 V’s is a value creation and delivery sequence to get marketers back to thinking about the whole package. As put forward by Lanning/Michaels at McKinsey & Co. the 3 V’s include ‘Choose the Value’, ‘Provide the Value’, and ‘Communicate the Value.’
I like holistic reminders of what a job entails, but they run the risk of becoming trite boundaries to innovation when the words can be used to limit rather than expand. I imagine that many educators regret the phrase that claims teaching is explained by the 3 R’s (Reading, [W]riting, and [A]rithmetic) and I think journalism has become much more complicated than the 5ish W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How). While those maxims are fundamental (you better not forget to teach ‘rithmetic or ask ‘who?’) they should be interpreted as launching pads, not definitions.
So if we want a mantra to help make sure that innovation moves forward personally or in a company what can we use?
Perspiration, Perseverance and Perspective
Reminders that any organizational structure you develop to push innovation must support the need for heavy lifting, focused development, and negotiating barriers.
Perspiration germinates from Edison’s quote:
It takes hard work to be in a position to have a great idea, let alone implement it.
Perseverance we can see from almost any inventor, but I like this pull from a Les Paul interview where he was describing his two year search for just the right echo used in “How High The Moon.” He had been working on it for two years when one evening while acting distracted a friend, Loyd, asked where his mind was. Les said he was still thinking about getting the echo:
“…he says, ‘Are you still worried about that thing?’ and I say, ‘yeah, I need it, I need it and I just don’t know how to get it.’
Obstacles are a fundamental part of the innovation process and Les Paul’s life shows how determination and perseverance can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. (Had to finish several of his records in a body cast able to move only his thumb on one hand… Puts a fight with accounting in perspective, doesn’t it.)
Perspective happens in a number of ways. I think Walt Disney had a handle on this:
“A good many of the men misinterpret the idea of studying the actual motion. They think it is our purpose merely to duplicate these things. This misconception should be cleared up for all. I definitely feel that we cannot do the fantastic things, based on the real, unless we first know the real. “ 1935 Memo to develop training class for animators.
Perspective is critical because innovations can create organizational myopia in which purpose and value identifiers can be warped in ways that unnecessarily delay an innovation or cause opportunities to be missed in the development process. As Scott Anthony mentions in a recent post: “…people who have deep knowledge about a topic sometimes assume other people have that same knowledge.” This can lead to failed assumptions about what customers actually care about.
So the 3 P’s of innovation in my mind have nothing to do with checklists. They are about hard work, focused dedication and, most importantly, being open to the real world changing things up.
- First: There is no one way to innovate. All paths start from where you are, your core business (or personal) strengths as Kay Plantes puts it.
- Second: Accept the Ying and Yang of the focus that comes from perseverance and the negotiation that grows from perspective. There is no single size solution that will relieve the inherent stress created from these two forces. (Pardon me if I have used Ying/Yang improperly. I think it makes the point, but would love clarification.) Bill Welter’s critical thinking comes into play here. Invention is not enough, you must understand how invention fits within the market or your world.
- Third: Great ideas come from long, hard work and are implemented through long, hard work. I know that seems pretty fundamental, but often posts (mine included) focus on the fun, brain-bending methods of encouraging inspiration and minimize the groundwork that acts as an innovation platform. Making sure you build a great strategic plan is less difficult in many ways than making sure you consult it and change it as conditions require. As Brad Shorr said recently, “First, we must grab hold of the notion that whatever tomorrow ends up looking like, it will be different.” So plan and work accordingly.
I’m going to close with a quote from Les Paul that didn’t quite fit above but I just loved:
“…Why – and that’s the key to the whole thing. That curiosity. You just ask that question, “Why?” and you’ve got your life cut out for you.” Les Paul on 9/14 Fresh Air rebroadcast with Terri Gross.