When creating something new, it’s very easy to laser focus on upgrading and perfecting your new creation.
But this will lead you to forget the real reason why you created it.
You may start adding features that the product didn’t really need to fulfill its purpose or upgrade it in a direction that people do not want or need.
This is why when creating new products and services, it is important to always remember why you are creating them and not laser focus solely on the solution itself.
When innovating to solve problems, keep the problem front and center
Problem-solving and problem-prevention are two reasons why we innovate.
These may be solving existing problems that your customers face, preventing problems you think will arise in the future, and even solving problems your company is internally dealing with today.
Whatever you’re trying to solve or prevent, it is important to keep the problem you’re solving or preventing at the core of your innovation process. You need to make sure that each part of your product is working toward solving or preventing the problem.
It’s quite easy to get carried away by the design and technology of your newly created product. This is a bias that many innovators and companies have.
You might think that the more tech you add and the more complex you make the design, the better your product will be. But this is a trap, especially when the things you add or ‘upgrade’ don’t do anything to help solve the problem better.
Or you might also think that the product you have developed today is already perfect even though it clearly doesn’t do its job efficiently. So you immaturely introduce it to the market, only for your customers to realize the product doesn’t solve their problems well.
What’s common in these two situations is that you are losing sight of the problem you set out to solve or prevent, and gave the design and tech of your product more importance.
In these situations, you’ve focused so much on developing, upgrading, and perfecting the product that you progressed in the wrong direction — a direction away from achieving your goal of creating a product that solves or prevents a problem in the best way possible.
If you’ve ever gone through this, you’re not alone. Many other’s have thought they created the ‘perfect’ product, only to realize it didn’t fulfill the purpose they created it for in the first place.
It is a trap that many companies have fallen into in the past.
What happens when you focus too much on your solution?
On Harvard Business Review, innovation expert Greg Satell shared an interesting story about how one company over-complicated and over-engineered a solution.
The company was presented with the problem to create a way to detect low concentrations of pollutants in bodies of water. The obvious solution: an expensive high-tech sensor that can do just that.
They were dead-set on creating this expensive sensor and even had a $1 million budget just to design it.
However, the team was too focused on the product they were making, instead of the problem they were solving. This meant they did not realize there was a far cheaper solution lying around.
That was until a member of the team took a step back and presented a solution that would have been significantly cheaper and just as effective as their expensive sensor.
This team member, a marine biologist, shared that clams can detect low concentrations of pollutants and open their shells when they do so. Thus, the solution needed was not a sensor that detected the pollutants, but a system that detects when clams open their shells.
According to his anecdote, the company was able to save $999,000 of its million-dollar budget.
What can we learn from this?
If you focus too much on your high-tech solutions, you could be blinding yourself to other more effective, and possibly cheaper ideas.
Sometimes what you need to regularly do is go back to the problem you are solving in order to see if there are better solutions out there. Ones that are better, cheaper, and more effective.
When innovating to shape the future, keep your vision front and center
The lessons above also apply to the other reasons we innovate: to improve the status quo and to create a new future.
You should still focus on why you’re innovating. But instead of keeping a problem at the center of your innovation process, you’ll be keeping your visionary idea front and center.
Here, you need to make sure that each part of your product is working toward making your vision a reality.
Same as in the case above, if you focus too much on your product, you’ll lose sight of the reason why you’re developing a new innovative product. You’ll lose sight of the future you’re trying to achieve through your product.
If this happens, you might end up creating a ‘perfect’ product that no one wants or needs, instead of creating a better future or improving the status quo.
Keeping the purpose of your innovation in mind at all times is all about achieving a good product-market fit.
Whether it’s keeping a problem or your vision top of mind, keeping the purpose of your innovation in mind at all times will help you create successful products that are truly revolutionary.
Why do you innovate?
Here at Embiggen, we innovate to solve the world’s most pressing problems including inaccessible healthcare, widening education gaps, and water scarcity.
Embiggen is a corporate venturing group that partners with groundbreaking organizations to build, scale, and invest in new digital ventures at startup speed through corporate venture building (CVB) and venture capital-as-a-service (VCaaS).
By leveraging corporates’ deep expertise and resources with startup agility and speed, Embiggen builds new digital futures and disrupts industries.
Since the start of its operations in 2020, Embiggen has grown into a full-service hub for the innovation capability development and innovation execution needs of organizations. Our full suite of innovation services allows us to build innovation capabilities from the ground up: from training teams in innovation theory all the way to co-executing their innovation initiatives by building new innovative ventures.
Learn more about the work Embiggen does here.