Innovation is dead.
Ok, maybe not entirely as a concept, but certainly as a word.
You’ve heard of Juicero, right? The $400 machine that squeezes juice out of pre-made packets.
It’s a more expensive version of a Keurig for juice.
What’s worse, shortly after the product hit the market, the internet proved you don’t even need the machine. You could squeeze the juice from the packets with your hands. Something you can’t do with coffee cups.
Hand-squeezed juice from the packets took more work, and time (which innovators hate wasting), but it could still be done.
So it’s actually a more expensive, less necessary version of Keurig for juice.
And yet, a product that is — at best — redundant was rolled out as innovative because that’s what we do now.
We’ve run that word into the ground. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Creating a new way of doing something will be at the root of business forever. I’m not suggesting that we abandon innovation altogether. But when we label everything innovative, we lose the ability to spot something worthwhile.
When we can’t be discerning, we get duped by every useless service or product. Like a $400 a machine that does what our hands can do for free.
People try desperately to stay ahead of the innovation wave by sending their employees to conferences or mastermind groups or every webinar possible. We’re hoping someone can offer perspective and objective judgements of the new so we don’t have to split our focus in so many different directions.
But we’re looking in all the wrong places.
The best place to get some useful insight on what’s actually valuable and what is just a shiny new toy?
Your organization's young people. The ones who trained themselves to interact with every new thing to make a decision about whether they’ll put their money behind it.
Young people, regardless of generation, have a lot to learn. But the one thing they’re innately great at is deciding what is worth it and what’s pure hype. Inevitably, what’s cool is determined by the youth.
And your organization is full of them.*
Save yourself the thousands of dollars you’re spending at a conference full of people just like you and sit down with someone who has a different thought process and value system entirely. Ask questions from someone who has brand new eyes.
Then actually listen.
Don’t dismiss their input because it hurts your ego, or because it doesn’t align with what you’ve been doing your entire career.
Understand that they represent the future of consumer behavior and implementing their suggestions would do more for your long-term success than any $60,000 tool.
Because that’s the whole point, right?
Why force-feed someone a product using meaningless buzzwords when you could figure out why they want it in the first place and just hand it over the right way?
You could offer a ridiculous juicer for $400 and try to convince people it’s convenient. Or you could offer a $100 a month juice subscription that actually is.
All you have to do is ask a kid. They’re full of opinions they can’t wait to share.
*Sidenote: if your organization doesn’t have young people (or people who haven’t been at your company for less than 5 years), fix that problem as soon as possible. You need fresh eyes on what you’re doing if you have any chance of staying relevant.