As a business owner, it's important to understand that a key driver of business growth and lasting success is effective product development. To most, that means coming up with innovations that improve upon existing products. A good example of this is the Apple iPhone. By adding the power of computing to cell phone communications, Apple created a product that has changed how and what much of the world communicates. This kind of evolutionary development is referred to as incremental innovation.
While incremental innovation can be a great source of new revenue and profit, the real game changes occur when we engage in disruptive innovation and create products that were once considered impossible. One such product of disruptive innovation is something you're using right now--the personal computer. Whether it's a desktop PC, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, it's safe to say the personal computer has changed the world."¨"¨
So what's the fundamental key to disruptive innovation? It's simply believing in the impossible."¨"¨
You might think I'm talking about thinking outside the box here, but it goes way beyond that. Thinking outside the box involves applying existing ideas and possibilities to a given problem that haven't been applied to it before. That's really where incremental innovation comes from.
Believing in the impossible puts you at the starting line of making the impossible not only possible, but also a reality. Believing in the impossible enables you to explore it, see a problem, and envision a solution that others have never dreamed of. And, once you've envisioned a solution, you can begin to work on making that vision a reality.
Related: The Innovation Story of the Year
Let's try some disruptive innovation now.
In Alice in Wonderland, Alice says, "Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." It may not be before breakfast right now, but just sit back, close your eyes, and try to think of just one impossible thing--anything.
"¨"¨I did this exercise last night as I lay in bed. The impossible thing I thought of was using one's own body heat to keep a bedroom warm overnight, so that the thermostat could lower the temperature in the rest of the house to, say, 55 degrees. That would certainly be a game changer on many levels. As I pondered that idea, it occurred to me that it would require some means of harvesting body heat (98.6 degrees' worth) and circulating it throughout the room. Impossible? Maybe, maybe not. "¨"¨
What about the impossible thing you thought of? Is it truly impossible? Maybe, maybe not. But, at the very least, those impossible ideas just might lead you to change the world.