How would customers reinvent your product?

12 07 2009

Too often companies and sports teams take their performance and competition for granted, plodding along with little thought about serious innovation. It’s happened at organisations as diverse as Starbucks and the All Blacks.

Starbucks’ confidence had them rapidly expanding their footprint, rather than evolving their relevance as “the third place”. Equally the All Blacks threw out the innovative conditioning programme and ‘rotation policy’ that developed a large squad of world class players, and within 12 months are lamenting a lack of depth within their squad.

Three recent stories from google, demonstrate that to stay competitive requires a different mindset. One where you consider yourself the challenger, and never the champion.

First up, google took a video camera to Times Square in New York, and asked what many consider a simple question – “what is a browser?”. Yet the responses (see video below), demonstrate that we should never take our customer’s understanding of our product for granted.

Next google have given a sneak preview of google Wave, which has been described as what email would be like if it was invented today. And then last week, google announced that they are developing an operating system, Chrome OS, to rival Windows. This again sounds like great challenger thinking – “what would an OS be like if it was invented today”.

But stretching into operating systems also risks falling into the Starbucks trap. In trying to be everything to everyone, they could leave themselves open to a competitor re-inventing their core product. And ironically, if the Bing search engine takes off worldwide, that challenger could be Microsoft.








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