Here’s Why Effortless Innovation Is Impossible to Achieve

Back in 1969, revered marketing gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout authored a momentous piece of literature, “Positioning is a game individuals play in today’s me-too market place,” which eventually translated into the highly-successful book “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”. It was a game-changer for many reasons, primarily for pioneering the concept of “positioning” as the strategy of embedding a brand into the consciousness of its intended audience.

The book was a treasure trove of useful tips and tricks, but one marketing strategy that stood out was the thought that “being the first is the easiest way to gain mindshare.” This theory, expounded by Al Ries and Jack Trout, aimed to prevent marketers from disregarding the bigger picture while implementing this tactic.

Numerous business executives have upheld the notion that introducing products rapidly and without regard for expense is the key to satisfying customer demands. A prime example of this is Facebook’s famous motto, “move quickly and break stuff.” This idea is additionally fuelled by the rapid pace of contemporary society, with technology often at the forefront. Consequently, the race to be the first to reach the finish line has become a pivotal element.

Undoubtedly, speed and efficiency are valuable qualities, but they should never take precedence. When the objective is to be the first to introduce a product (or “first in the customers’ minds”), crucial aspects like exceptional functionality, seamless operation and user-friendliness are often overlooked. Unfortunately, pursuing such a heedless approach can lead to unfavorable outcomes.

Initially, we became accustomed to tolerating imperfections in our work, believing that they could be remedied in the future. To meet demanding deadlines, we curtailed the time required for software development and hastily implemented plans. There was great emphasis on procuring the most cutting-edge technology as early as possible. Regrettably, we wrongly assumed that such behavior was crucial for fostering innovation. How misguided we were.

An Obsolete Model in the Age of User Experience

Pursuing ‘innovation’ without considering how it enhances customer experiences is a flawed strategy that is bound to fail. The video game sector provides a clear demonstration of this — in the past, companies would release incomplete products to maximize profits. Although this method may have been effective initially, it lost steam when buyers began to see through it, concluding that it was not sustainable.

Today’s market witnesses customers who are more mindful of their role as consumers, and often seek alternatives if a product or service fails to live up to their expectations. Being the pioneer no longer ensures customer satisfaction; it is the quality of the user experience rather than being the first that counts.

According to a recent survey undertaken by the Gartner Group, customer service has emerged as a key competitive distinguisher, with 80% of companies acknowledging its critical roll in their prosperity. This development is gathering momentum in present times. To capture and retain their intended audience, businesses must reassess their strategy and recognize that speedy product launches are acceptable, so long as product quality is not undermined.

Friction: Innovate Slowly and Deliberately

In response to emerging trends, Facebook reviewed its fundamental principles a few years back. This introspective approach revealed that there were deliberate, rather than haphazard, obstacles to innovation. To guarantee customer happiness, the corporation resolved to take its time and polish its products and services before launching them to the general public.

It is entirely reasonable to appreciate the importance of taking adequate time to enable innovation, new idea generation and the enhancement of existing ones. Friction during the waiting period is an essential element of the process.

Individuals who continually pursue growth would understandably be irritated by a scenario where friction is not minimized. The primary concern is getting the product to the market in a timely manner; any glitches or additional features can be resolved in future updates. Nevertheless, this approach does not eliminate friction; instead, it shifts the responsibility onto the customer, who could encounter dissatisfaction and inconvenience due to a faulty product or a deficient service.

It is apparent that organizational progress is not facilitated by customer dissatisfaction. As companies compete with each other to offer a better customer experience, marketers are grasping the significance of producing a product that is effortlessly navigable to achieve victory. If that is not feasible, then the product or service must be less strenuous than that of their rivals.

It is evident that elevating the customer experience requires eliminating any barriers that may result from swift product development. Hence, it is crucial to be imaginative and contemplate different feasible solutions that can be applied to realize this objective. Here are three prospective remedies that could be executed:

  • There should be an increased allocation of funds for research and strategic analysis.

    Major corporations such as Microsoft and Amazon invest billions of dollars into research and development, as they must remain competitive and are prepared to bear the costs of innovation. What can be achieved with such a huge amount of capital? Essentially, corporate strategy success is founded on the study of diverse markets, trends, industries, and consumer behaviour. By conducting market research, firms can create better products and services, which ultimately leads to an enhanced user experience.
  • The initial growth phases necessitate more time:

    It is apparent that solving a problem necessitates more than just financial backing, it also requires significant time and energy. That is why we cannot hurry the process of study, investigation, and exploration. Moreover, this case is complicated because of the need for a more comprehensive research phase in which innovation-driven organizations can compare their assumptions with the market. Disassembling these preconceptions enables product teams to recognize unexpected prospects, and create novel methods of delivering value to customers.
  • User Testing Should Be Increased:

    Despite incurring extra time and resources, user testing should not be ignored during a sprint for product or service development. This approach to detect issues before the product or service is launched in the market can aid in reducing any difficulties between the consumer and development phases. It is because of the fact that user testing allows the identification and resolution of possible issues before they become problematic. While it is understandable why some industry businesses may hesitate to incorporate user testing into their plans due to the additional time and costs, it can be beneficial in the long run and can ultimately help to prevent customers from withdrawing from purchasing the product or service.

It is apparent that friction is inevitable; the challenge lies in recognizing where businesses must bear it. The product’s success is dependent on accepting it. Neglecting friction could eventually lead to a version that is entirely full of friction, which will adversely affect the user experience, resulting in the ultimate downfall of the product, even if it was first to launch in the market. Companies may decide to get their customers to bear it during the development phase if they wish to avoid it.

It is evident that the addition of user testing to the development process will lead to an inevitable delay and additional cost. However, providing a higher degree of service and enhancing the customer experience is a crucial component of the contemporary commercial landscape. It enables a brand to remain in the customer’s thought processes. As marketing experts like Al Ries and Jack Trout have pointed out, businesses must be willing to embrace some degree of innovation resistance to achieve their objectives.

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