Are you familiar with the land of unicorns? You know, that glittering land of eternal rainbows where everything works like magic. That imaginary place where all fantastic ideas are born – and where they usually remain until the end of days.
In business, an idea is labeled a “unicorn” if it looks great at the start but will only work and yield a profit in an imaginary world.
In How to Kill a Unicorn by Mark Payn, it explains more on how to kill these unicorns and make true innovation happen. With the help of numerous examples given by the global innovation firm Fahrenheit 212, the book helps you to gain an understanding of how to formulate innovative ideas and solutions that actually work in the real world.
Fahrenheit 212 is a global innovation firm founded by the author. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably encountered its work; it’s helped many of the biggest companies in the world – including Samsung, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Toyota – develop innovative ideas, strategies and products.
So what can Fahrenheit 212 teach you about generating innovation?
First, team up with a diverse group of people. At Fahrenheit, they create dream teams with Money & Magic. That is, they combine money experts – commercial, financial and strategic whizzes – together with experts who know how to “magically” navigate consumer wants and needs.
What makes this the winning combo? Well, consider an innovative idea or strategy that appeals to consumers but doesn’t bring in profit. Without a black bottom line, the idea probably won’t be sustainable in the long run.
Let’s see how Fahrenheit 212 puts this advice into action.
To help turn Samsung’s new translucent LCD screen into profitable technology, Fahrenheit brought together a team of analysts and financial experts (Money) with designers, writers, architects and film producers (Magic). Together, they came up with creative product solutions that were also financially and strategically viable.
Next, in order to arrive at those great innovative ideas, forget brainstorming – try debating with your team instead.
A 2003 study conducted at UC Berkeley showed that debate and criticism, rather than inhibiting the development of ideas, tend to stimulate it.
In the experiment, researchers divided 265 students into groups and asked them to come up with a solution to a traffic-congestion problem. One group was asked to brainstorm without criticism, while the other group was told to debate, with all members being free to challenge each other’s ideas.
After 20 minutes, the debate group had come up with far more creative ideas than the brainstorming group, showing the importance of constructive criticism and an array of viewpoints in the creative innovation process.
So you’ve assembled your dream team. What next? Let’s see how the Fahrenheit team tackled a problem faced by a bank in Dubai: on average, customers only bought two of the bank’s products, neglecting a wide range of other services.
Fahrenheit approached this problem by first adopting the consumer’s point of view. Reaching out to the bank’s customers revealed the root of the problem: customers didn’t fully trust the bank. They feared that the product terms might change to their disadvantage, and they therefore tried to limit risk by buying only a couple of products.
Equipped with this new knowledge, Fahrenheit began checking every business-related aspect of the bank, from IT systems to profit-and-loss statements.
And it quickly became apparent that the bank’s products were suffering from being siloed. Often, one department’s initiatives were totally disconnected from those of another department. Also, each product used different software, making it impossible for customers to see the benefits of accumulating different kinds of financial assets in the bank.
Aware of both the customer and business issues, the Fahrenheit team was now ready to solve the problem.
They created an IT and product system called Mosaic, which connected the bank’s various products. If you opened a checking account, for example, the terms of some other service – a car loan’s interest rate, say – would also improve.
In addition, Mosaic worked smoothly on tablets, thus ensuring that customers could conveniently see how their numbers changed with the addition of new products. This built trust, because customers were now reminded of the potential financial benefits, as opposed to risks, of accumulating their assets in the bank.
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