And now for something completely different: the role of luck in innovation. As Guy Kawasaki put it: “Rich and famous does not equal smart, but merely lucky”. That was when he announced his 11th tip in his top 10 learnings of being an evangelist for more than 30 years: don’t let the bozos grind you down.
Now should you wait for luck to come knocking on your door?
When in ancient Rome: Fortes fortuna adiuvat. Fate helps the strong or brave. Sitting on a rock and waiting for fortune to arrive certainly doesn’t help your case.
I remember Seth Godin on this topic – when we invited him to Antwerp in April 2010 (watch the 5 mins video). Seth compared luck in business or innovation to the game of the goose. How do you win that game? How do you get from square nr 1 to square nr 67 as fast as possible?
Well, the one who rolls the dice more often, wins the game. In business, you don’t need to wait for your fellow players in the game to roll your next dice. And again, and again, … If you roll the dice more often, you’ll have more chances to get lucky.
Ship, listen and refine (in that order)
When you discuss your idea with friends or other people before you actually have launched your innovation, people will tell you your idea won’t work. They will deliver arguments and advice. If you listen to all the bozos and the well-meaning friends, you will never ship.
As Guy Kawasaki puts it: “Ship and once you ship, you should listen to your target audience telling you how to fix your product/service or make it better for them.” (Of course this is difficult in core pharma or biotech products where you need years of testing before you can ship any product.)
People are not able to tell you what they want exactly before they have seen, tried, experienced your service. Embrace that truth.
Let the market decide about the use
When the first Mac was launched, Guy Kawasaki, explained, “we thought we knew who should use our product and how they should use it.” But the market reacted in a very different way. Thanks to the Pagemaker application, people decided that the 1st Mac was the right thing for desktop publishing. And as you know, DTP saved Apple.
If you see such a new adoption happening, don’t kill it. Support it. Embrace the new user community, go and talk to them about how you can make your product better suited for the things they want to get done. And maybe even alter your product or extend your product line.
That was my 2nd takeaway from #CWF14.
And maybe one more thing: evangelism, community management etc. really benefits from an offline component as well (have a look at my earlier slideshare presentation on community building).
Do not underestimate the dark side of all that: most businesses underestimate the resources needed for decent community management. Or they look at it too tactical, taking too many shortcuts, and not as a well-supported strategy to put the customer central in your innovation efforts. That is why they loose community members and do not receive adequate feedback, resulting in doing the wrong thing for the market.