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The Innovation Checklist - Don't Leave R & D Without It

INNOVATION = In + Ovation

Contained within the word “innovation” are the keys to doing it successfully.

For any innovation to be successful it must:

1.  Get “In” = “Whoa!” For any innovation to be successful it needs to get in and through to the overloaded and overcrowded mind space of your intended market.  To do this it needs to cause your market to go, “Whoa! Stop everything I was thinking about and pre-occupied with, I just saw, heard or read something that is worth taking a second look.”

2. Trigger an “Ovation” = “Wow!” After your market stops in their tracks to take a second look, what they see, hear or read needs to cause them to go, “Wow! My instincts were right.  That was worth a second look and that really speaks to me in a compelling and dramatic way.”

3. Compel to “Think” = “Hmmm…”
After they have been wowed, your target market needs to seamlessly be compelled to think, “Hmmm… that is too good to drop, forget about, not use, not do something with.  The ways I can use it are __________ .”

4. Drive to “Act” = “Let’s Go!” After they have thought and reflected on how and where they can use that “Wow!” your market needs to: a) spontaneously buy or hire it; b) spontaneously tell others about what just “Wowed” them and passionately pass the news on to others through word of mouth marketing.

This happened to me a couple years ago when I finally bought an iPhone 4 through Verizon.  I had been putting it off. Being a baby boomer who is mildly technically challenged I didn’t want to buy another new “toy,” have to learn how to use it, feel frustrated at buying a piece of technology for a high price and yet again only use 10 % of its capability (something I have been doing for decades with computers, software) while paying for all the stuff it could do for me.

What occasioned the change were:

a) I was eligible for an upgrade
b) Others my age (who were no smarter than me) had been raving about their switching over to an iPhone
c) My daughter needed a replacement cel phone and I had the chance to give her my Blackberry Tour which had served me very well

So a few days ago I took the plunge and then:

1. “Whoa!” – I stopped everything I was doing on a Sunday to buy an iPhone 4 from Verizon, transfer the service and the data, especially my contacts and calendar (and boy did I breathe a sigh of relief when I saw them all come up on the iPhone). This was not pleasant for me and there were many points — accompanied by my fleeting spells of nausea and dry mouth — where I felt like canceling the whole process and going back to my Blackberry.  But I persevered and passed the point of no return, where the hassle of going back to what I had was more than the anxiety of continuing forward into the unknown and becoming an iPhone user.

2. “Wow!” – The next day (glad but not yet thrilled about my iPhone) I visited an Apple store and took one of their free intro to your iPhone sessions.  Within twenty minutes I was able to use much more of the iPhone features than I had ever learned on my Blackberry (the “in class” community program at the Apple store did the trick).  The capper was finding the address of the house I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and then looking at the google picture of it.  In an instant, seeing that house from so long ago with a flood of memories as well as a taste of all the apps I never would have used on my Blackberry thrilled me.  Add to that someone from the “Genius Bar” who helped me set up MobileMe so that I could automatically sync changes to my calendar and contacts and I was hooked.

3. “Hmmm…” – As I was driving home from the Apple store I savored my conquest over the inadequacy I felt a mere 90 minutes earlier and began to think of all the new capabilities I would now have as a result of all the apps I had added at the Apple store.

4. “Let’s Go!” – Since I had already bought it and learned how to use much on the iPhone, what was left now was to tell the other members of my family and friends, “You’ve really got to check out the iPhone if you haven’t.” In fact the desire to keep that enthusiasm alive is what prompted me to write this blog.

The Innovation Check List

If you are involved in innovating a product, a technology or a service either for your customers and clients outside or for your people (including your Board of Directors) inside your company, put yourself in their shoes and on a scale of 1 to 3 (where 1 = unlikely; 2 = likely; 3 = very likely) rate how likely your innovation will cause them to respond with:

1. “Whoa!” – “Can you run that by me again” or “Tell me more” or “How do that work?”
2. “Wow!” - “My instincts were right, that is an amazing product, service, idea, etc.
3. “Hmmm…” – “I’m already thinking of and seeing ways to use that service, product or idea to rapidly get me more of what I (we) want, much sooner than we’re getting it now.”
4. “Let’s Go” – “I see the opportunity that service, product or idea and the first steps in seizing that opportunity so clearly that I am committing to doing it by promising to take a particular action, by a certain date and be willing to be held accountable for it.”

The higher the score, the more likely your innovation will be successful; the lower the score the more likely it will fail.

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