Whether you create a physical product, or a product as an experience or service, how do you keep developing it over the course of its life cycle? Today's hyper-competitive marketplace demands that you understand the core value of your product. Phil McKinney is the author of the new book, "Beyond The Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation." Here, he asks two Killer Questions that will help you define your future customer offerings; and provides insight about the future of innovation and product development …
What products and services will I need to develop and offer to stay ahead of my competition in the next five years?
On October 4, 1957, Russia launched Sputnik. Previously, the United States had been the frontrunner in space exploration; and the US government was both shocked and embarrassed by the country's accomplishment. The " Sputnik moment" was a huge benefit for our long-term space goals. Shortly thereafter, NASA was founded and President Kennedy greatly increased space travel funding. The US led space exploration for the next half century.
"We all need Sputnik moments," says McKinney. They can be alarming yet invigorating. A Sputnik moment is the catalyst for change because seeing your competitor advance is the greatest motivator there is. "Have you ever had a Sputnik moment?"
How could my product change in five years?
"Are you missing weak signals about the future of your industry because you feel like the seismic shifts will not affect you?" requests McKinney.
McKinney relates this question to the online giant, Amazon. Books have gone from being atoms to bits. Amazon realized that to stay relevant and necessary, it needed to retain control over something tangible and physical.
Amazon invented the Kindle, which has become the medium that brings the printed word to the reader. "Even though a reader may have transferred allegiance to digital media, Amazon is still controlling access to the" thing "in a reader's hand," says McKinney.
McKinney concludes the section entitled "What Is Your What" with some pithy insight.
He once saw a website offering a pet care service for Christians concerned about the welfare of their pets left behind after Judgment Day. He was not sure if it was a parody or not, but it made him an a-ha moment. "The only boundary to the innovation and development of a new product-a What -is your willingness to get out there, think up an idea, no matter how crazy, and give it a shot." If you're telling yourself that you can not do something, can not get your what out there because of a lack of cash, time, expertise, etc. then you're missing the point. Act on it! "It does not matter if you had that idea first; it matters if you made it happen first."
For innovation at its finest, check out the Unrealable Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Each year, 25 global entrepreneurs spend 6 weeks a the institute to create products and services that will benefit at least one million people: http://unreasonableinstitute.org .