I’ve long studied various forms of artistry – including musicians, actors, poets, painters, speakers and many more – and have noted that the ones that resonate with us the most, are the ones that allow us to determine our own unique perspective and viewpoint. They allow us to tell our own story – one that shapes our own unique perception of the art-at-hand (or product, in the case of the innovator).
We all know that innovation is both an art and a science. So that means, one must apply both scientific rigor and artistic principles towards creating effective and impactful innovation.
Addressing the scientific half of the equation is the (relatively) easier of the two and is often the one most innovators tend to focus on. This includes such measurable questions as: Is there a size-able market? Is there a sound business model? Does it solve a real problem? What are the technical requirements? What will it cost? and so on.
For now, I won’t get into that here as its been discussed ad-nauseam.
However, the artistic half is one that I have seen frequently under-addressed, mis-understood, and mis-applied.
More often than not, leaders of innovation tend to focus on a key misconception….the idea that their innovative product or service will shape their core audience because it solves their perceived problem. This is a very egocentric strategy that may work in select circumstances (i.e. Apple) to initially launch and test products, but it does little to evolve the product portfolio to meet the ongoing demands and desires of your users. Ultimately this self-centered approach may misguide one’s strategy by only encouraging to innovate along what is already expected of us.
The goal of an artist is not to steer ones perspective towards any pre-conceived biases, but rather to provide the precipice to allow the consumer to determine the relevant application of that innovation that is personalized to themselves. In other words, great artists innovate in ways that allow the audience to shape themselves through the use of your product or service.
As a result, this re-directs the innovators strategy to instead focus on observing the customers use of the innovation, rather than force feeding unnecessary features that we convince ourselves the users want.
In short, poor innovation artists make false assumptions about what they think their customers want by thrusting their biases and ideas onto them. In contrast, great innovation artists help their customers shape themselves by standing back to allow them to develop their own perceptions and perspectives, ultimately creating die-hard followers and evangelists that make it difficult for others to compete against.