The Power Of Familiar

The folks that bring us Pepsi, Tropicana and Gatorade have done the product management world a favor by performing a very large logo experiment in public. Tropicana went for a radical new package design dropping their familiar ‘straw in an orange’ image for what I consider a rather generic box. Gatorade traded the logo and their name for a large letter G and reduced lightning bolt. Pepsi traded their single circle for a series of happy faces and fat birds and stylized type. I’ve reported disasterous Tropicana numbers earlier (down 20%) and that they have abandoned the logo change. Evidently the Gatorade numbers are just as terrible down more than 13% in the first quarter (with Powerade picking up 6 points of marketshare). My guess is they won’t backtrack here. (Two admissions of extreme error in a six month period. Nope.) (UPDATE BELOW) I haven’t seen anything about Pepsi results, … Continue reading

Tackling the Uncertainty Paradox – An Introduction

Uncertainty can drive opportunity. Uncertainty can also drive you mad and destroy your company. Bummer. Bill Welter (Adaptive Strategies), Kay Plantes (Plantes Company) and I have been discussing how the uncertainty caused by stronger, less predictable and more frequent disruptions can be as large a source of opportunity as it is a threat. We’ve been considering why such uncertainty tends to freeze some and free others. And we’ve been thinking about where companies and individuals can find solid traction for progress even when they feel trapped by uncertainty. The three of us have worked with a wide range of organizations from the very large Fortune 500 to the very small entrepreneurial start-up and we tend to agree that standing still is about the only option NOT open to you today. You are either planning your moves or circumstance will do the moving. Sound scary? It should, but maybe in more … Continue reading

Texting Innovation For Rural Medicine

What do you do when patients are so isolated and travel is so difficult and money is so tight that symptoms go untreated because information travels so slowly? Oh, and there’s not a dime to spare. This is the challenge faced by many rural health centers utilizing a system of community health workers who travel from clinics to reach patients in very isolated regions. They usually travel by foot or bike. They often cover such large areas that they may not return to the base clinic more than once a month. In wealthier regions solutions would probably involve large scale databases, interactive web pages, medical equipment hooked up to doctors in centralized locations and maybe even a car or two. Sometimes a lack of resources and a will to succeed is more than ample to create a real world changing difference. Frontline SMS:Medic was one of the business plans presented … Continue reading

Reality Check – –
Have You Out-Innovated Your Customers?

Innovation is a critical survival technique. New strategies, tools, products, technologies are fun to grab hold of. But have you left anyone behind? Customers perhaps? When you’re moving at the speed of light it’s easy to think those who don’t keep up just don’t get ‘it.’ Word processing software is so productive, why do they even make pencils anymore? (We still use about 100 million a year.) Email is fabulous, why phone? (Oops, showing my age. Substitute Twitter) Online listings are always up to date. Why do 19 billion paper catalogs keep showing up in my mailbox? (At least it feels like my mailbox.) Innovation Reality Check. If you are in a dynamic product development environment your eyes might be so focused on the future that you miss opportunities in maturing markets simply because it seems passe’. (Buggy whips anyone?)

Physics, Ideation, Community & Entanglement

Inspiration is a funny thing. It comes from places you expect, don’t expect, and come to expect.  You have to be open to it. Defend it. And, on occasion, abandon it. Physics has been my muse for thinking about ways creative ideas might be better shepherded through an organization as we try to: Avoid concept death by committee. Avoid killing creativity through argument. Avoid ignoring the game changing idea. As I explored folks came to my rescue – building on concepts, offering encouragement, arguing kindly (and on occasion providing the needed fix). Very similar to the way discussions surrounding physics were described in Gilder’s Book. The discussion has spurred my thinking – and so this seemed like a good time to review where we are at. Strategies for Probing and Testing Ideas without Killing Them Thought experiments were a favorite of Einstein and Bohr in part because they help you to think … Continue reading