Don’t Just Create An Innovative Product; Revolutionize Your Industry
Photo by Retha Ferguson
Many business owners look up to some of the greatest CEOs of our generation and dream of a day when they, too, can be the CEO of a company like Microsoft, Facebook, Tesla, Amazon, Netflix or Apple. What they often fail to recognize, however, is what it took for them to achieve this status.
The world’s best CEOs consistently push for innovation, and those who are truly the best of the best aim to reinvent entire industries. CEOs like Jeff Bezos, the late Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings and Elon Musk don’t just go through the year and try to play catch-up with their competitors. Rather, they show up each day and think about ways to completely revolutionize their industry through consistent innovation.
In 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, it was easy for us to believe he was just introducing a new phone. Today, it’s clear Steve Jobs and Apple didn’t just introduce a new phone; they completely reinvented the mobile phone. Today, cell phones are nothing like they used to be. Steve Jobs gave consumers a completely different set of expectations for what the small communications device in their pocket could do for them.
Elon Musk has done exactly the same thing with the automobile industry. In fact, Tesla, in many ways, is the iCar. Prior to the release of the iPhone, a cell phone was exactly the same 25 months after being purchased as it was the day it was purchased. But the iPhone introduced us to the concept of a “living device” that automatically improves every few months because of software upgrades.
Much like the iPhone, Tesla cars are also living devices. A new Tesla owner purchases a car with a certain set of known features, like any other car. A few weeks later, however, they walk into the garage to find a message on the massive display saying their car learned “new tricks” while they were sleeping.
In fact, because Teslas connect to the Wi-Fi network of the house, they are constantly communicating with the geniuses back at Tesla Corporate. Most importantly, those geniuses are communicating back. One day, they may find that their car is now faster than it was yesterday. They may also find that the safety features of the car have magically improved and their car can now tell them if they are starting to weave out of their lane or if a car is in their blind spot.
Ten years from now, the question won’t be whether every car functions like a Tesla, but rather, which auto manufacturer will be creating the hardware and potentially even the software that runs most automobiles? Will a company like Google, Microsoft, Tesla or even Apple design the intelligence that will drive most of the cars on the market?
The point is: In the real world, as a CEO, your job is to look beyond your competition and look for what your customers want that they may not even know they want yet. What are the things that might completely change the rules of your business or even revolutionize your entire industry?
Of course, it’s not just about innovating once in a while; it’s about creating a culture of innovation within your company. It’s a matter of raising your own standards as well as the standards for your key team members to consistently look for ways to go above and beyond for your customers.
One practical way of doing this is to consistently look for your customer’s pain points and focus on which ones you may be able to solve, even if they don’t realize your product or service can solve them. Simply talk to your customers and ask broad questions. Then keep asking questions in an attempt to understand potential areas that you can influence with your product or service, even if they don’t see it yet. The more questions you ask, the broader you keep the topic, and the more you listen, the higher your chances of discovering one of these pain points.
As you begin to uncover the pain points that you can address with your product or service, you will begin to develop something that will address many more areas of concern for your current clients as well as potential future clients. Immediately, you will have a much higher likelihood of attracting new customers and making your current customers more loyal.
Imagine an organization where each employee is consistently thinking of how they can serve customers better, how they can address more of their problems and how they can think outside the box to provide things the competition simply wouldn’t think to provide.
For inspiration, imagine the proud expression on the face of someone loyally embracing your product because it has made their life that much easier and enjoyable. The question that remains is: Will your product be man’s best friend a decade from now — and are dogs fearing the competition knocking on their door?
How can you create this feeling in your customers and how can you revolutionize your industry today?