Make it Happen, First!

What Comes Next?

A few years ago I saw a website offering a product called After the Rapture Pet Care. It claimed to offer a service for Christians concerned about the welfare of pets that would be left behind after the Day of Judgment. Subscribers were promised a network of non-Christians who’d swoop in, collect pets, and promise […]

Stay Relevant— The Changing Nature of Products

How could my product change in five years?

Do you sell atoms or bytes? Do you think that your answer could change over the next five years? Think about Amazon and the Kindle. Jeff Bezos asked, What is my role going to be if the nature of books changes? He realized that to stay relevant and necessary his company needed to retain control […]

That Sputnik moment

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 a beach-ball-sized satellite named Sputnik, which orbited the Earth in just over ninety-six minutes. The previous frontrunner in the space race, the United States, was now the runner up. Our only competitor had trounced us, seemingly out of nowhere. A month later the Russians sent up Laika, a small […]

Finding Ways to Offer Underused Resources

What products could I create out of unused assets?

I’m an innovation guy. It may not say so on my business card, but that’s what I do. I encourage people, whether inside HP or in my meetings with customers around the world, to accept that they and their product are going to have to change. No matter how popular and successful your work is, […]

The zero-tolerance consumer

What is surprisingly inconvenient about my product?

The designers and engineers who work at HP face many challenges in getting their ideas signed off on. It’s a long process from an idea to a finished prototype. Before any product can hit the market, it faces one final test. I take the prototype home, give it to my wife, and say, “Tell me […]

customer base

The Benefit of Being Strategically Disliked

Who will not buy my product because they feel something is objectionable about it?

The flipside to any positive emotional connotation or connection is a negative one. If you are inspiring enough such that some people love what you are doing, odds are you are going to be inspiring others to dislike your product with an equal passion. Plenty of companies trade on the fact that they represent something […]

Extract Value from Old Assets

Can I recombine existing components to create new products for customers I don’t currently serve?

Magazine publishers are in the same predicament as the book-publishing and recording industries before it. How do you keep your customers believing that your content is worth paying for when there is endless free content available on the Internet? Some fashion magazines are experimenting with making their print issues feel like “must-buy” items; Bazaar and […]

Weak Signals

How can I take advantage of emerging trends and fads?

“Weak signals” are the equivalent of a canary in a coal mine. They are the unspoken needs and wants of your customers, and they are also the arrows pointing to what your customers are going to need and want in the future, even if they themselves don’t know it yet. If you pay attention to […]

Typing Instructor: Forget the obvious solution

Could I create a standardized offering of a custom product?

One of the first products I created as a software developer was a touch-typing program called Typing Instructor. This was back in 1985, and at that time there was no such thing as a standard PC. Instead you owned a specific brand and had access to the programs that had been written specifically for that make, […]

Know that your customers’ needs will change

What will future customers’ buying criteria be?

A big part of my business is being aware of, and responding to, the life cycles of my industry and my customers. Some of these are easy to see; you only need a cursory understanding of the effect of OPEC on gas prices in the early ’70s to understand why cars became more fuel efficient […]