January 31, 2012

12 Days of Innovation for Marketers – Day 2 – FastCoExist

As we look at Innovation, a lot of people get “not invented here syndrome.”   I think that’s actually the best part of scanning the internet for innovation. You’re specifically looking for things that are outside of your normal zone to see what you can bring back into it.  Fringe scanning – or searching for innovative and emerging ideas from people purposefully outside your circle – introduces you to new context as well as new content.

The ability to translate context from one space into another is often central to business model redesign.  For instance, Walmart made a full on business of managing the supply chain better than anyone else – and could launch Every Day Low Pricing as a result.  This is a harbinger of what we’re looking for.  Radical is a goal to seek out.  It’s a full on differentiator.  We learn the lessons in B-school and lose them.

People operating at the fringe generally face demonstrable constraints.  They generally have nothing or little of something we all take for granted – economics, a distribution channel, a customer base, a known product.  If you re not scanning the fringe for those interesting stories, you might forget it can be done.  Innovation starts where someone else has stopped.  Where the “normal” stops.  You can only erase the constraints on the far side of that.

Among my favorite places of picking up where others stop is FastCoExist.  In recent days, they’ve presented stories about toilets, solar power, medical apps and food.  None of these feels overtly outside our comfort level – unlike the folding car from yesterday’s post.  To take the known and innovate is much closer to home.  Oddly enough, it might be harder, but don’t let that put you off.  Sometimes, it’s changing one small thing (like introducing tactile displays) that can make all the difference.  Making the seemingly unfamiliar or technologically advanced “too big to know” approachable is still innovation.  And they specialize in this very thing.

With writing that is direct and engaging,  FastCoExist does something wonderful – it frees your mind to be positive about change.  Which brings us to our close – from Einstein again: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Cristene, Kevin and Debbie