Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Think Different-ly: Innovation in the United States

The Washington Times has a good article on innovation with really good examples. One is Aravind Eye Care. They are the Terminator of cataract surgeries. That is all they do, they perform 60% of their surgeries for free and they still make a profit. To do this, they had to rethink the entire business lifecycle and go against Western philosophies of innovating through addition.

Another example is Haier, maker of washing machines. They noticed that they were consistently called out to unclog drains of customers. This was because the customer was not using the machine for its intended use, they were washing sweet potatoes in it. They took this observation and added a new vegetable wash feature in their latest product release. They have also delivered a washing machine optimized to make goats' cheese, and a refrigerator that has a fold-out desk for students in dorms. These features all come from understanding segments of their customers by having solid listening channels in place. They are now one of the top five appliance manufacturers in the world.

Innovation isn't just this loosely defined term thrown around by CEOs. It is a mindset that can sometimes be as simple as observing unknown unknowns or as complex as changing around entire business models. One thing that is constant in innovation is the deep understanding of the customer experience.

Read the entire article here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/03/rethinking-innovation/

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