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Category: Innovation

Like LEGO, Be Yourself

In 2003 LEGO sales dropped 35% in the US and 29% worldwide, combining to be the biggest annual loss in the company’s history.

This was new territory for a company that saw generations success decade after decade. But how exactly did it happen?

Like many other business trying to stay ahead of their competition, the iconic toy brick manufacturer attempted to pivot into an untapped market. Problem was they pivoted wrong.

LEGO tried to innovate without researching or simply asking their faithful customer and fan base what they really wanted. This resulted in a product that was very un-LEGO like. Items that were mostly prebuilt and had minimal assembly factor.

LEGO eventually rebounded and has since experienced steady growing sales, leading to several full length feature films and other entertainment expansions like streaming tv series and gaming franchises.

All because LEGO returned to their roots of success. Which was relying on their proprietary brick building system as the foundation for new innovation.

The moral of the story? When others seem to be growing in new experiences, opportunities or innovation, don’t be afraid to continue being your authentic self personally or professionally. Especially when you’ve had success doing so.

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‘Hands Free’ Innovation

When innovation is introduced, the first question we should ask is ‘why’? Instead of declaring ‘no one asked for this!’

In the case of Nike’s new Go FlyEase ‘hands free’ sneakers, someone did ask for it and the global sneaker brand fully committed to taking on the challenge.

That someone was Matthew Walzer who in 2012 at 16 years of age wrote a letter to Nike about the need for such a design. Walzer detailed in the letter how his battle with Cerebral Palsy made doing simple functions like tying his own shoes challenging.

“At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”

Nike designer Tobie Hatfield led the project and ultimately finalized the design with the help of Walzer. The Nike Go FlyEase allows Walzer to use only his feet to secure his shoes.

Sometimes at first ‘social media’ glance innovation looks like a waste of time and resources. And that we need to be convinced of the benefit to our individual lives. Like slip-on running shoes.

But if we’re brave enough to stop scrolling for a minute and research the ‘why’ we’ll be pleasantly surprised that a need for innovation was there all along. We just had to look for it.

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The Right Way to Build Intrigue

KFC, formally Kentucky Fried Chicken, is planning to release a gaming console.

No, really. This isn’t fake news.

The KFConsole is a real console with real specs. KFC partnered with tech company Cooler Master to deliver gaming power in the form of 240fps on select titles at 4K resolution and 2TB SSD based storage solution with Seagate BarraCuda SSDs.

Oh, and it also has a built in warmer to keep your chicken hot for those late night weekend gaming sessions.

Whether or not the KFConsole will compete with market leaders Microsoft and Sony remains to be seen. For now KFC’s risky investment into the gaming industry has put their brand back on the pop culture radar. A place KFC hasn’t been since the launch of Toonie Tuesday back in the 90’s

All this from the fast food giant who arguably doesn’t currently offer the best fried chicken in the market today. But the idea is too intriguing to not pay attention. And that’s exactly the point.

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Thinking Outside of the Soapbox

In my early days of working in transportation, I had the opportunity to work with one of the largest soap brands in the world.

They were my main logistics account for the company I worked for, and I was their point person in charge of coordinating their freight.

Because of market share losses, senior leadership wanted fresh creative ideas to stimulate business growth. Most companies of their caliber and size would limit that conversation to the sales and marketing team. This company sought out a different approach.

They ended up inviting partners from all over their supply chain as well as their general office staff to participate in a group strategy session. Participants included personnel from accounting, customer service, contract warehousing, contract transportation (me), sales, marketing and senior leadership.

The idea was to get a different perspective from individuals who had a alternate vantage point for how the business was operating. First we had a brain storming session to flesh out new ideas. Then we went in groups of two to scope out the product layout at major retailers across the city. We returned to discuss innovative ways to make product placement more appealing to shoppers.

Its no surprise that businesses, large and small, who see year over year growth are usually the ones willing to take an unorthodox approach to creating growth potential and continuous improvement planning.

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The Risk of Uniformity

Twitter was once a haven for social media innovation. One can argue that there’s still no social media platform that’s as influential as Twitter when it comes to pop culture communicating to the rest of us. Just ask Trump.

But with the addition of the new ‘Fleet’ application to the popular app, Twitter is now seen as late the to party when it comes to adding a ‘story mode’.

Yes ‘Fleet’ is nothing more than Twitter’s attempt to jump on the 24 hour story mode first made famous by Snap Chat, then eventually adapted by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and even WhatsApp.

With many social media users already utilizing Instagram stories with an extension to post in Facebook stories automatically, Twitter Fleets lack of novelty makes it easy for most of us to pass it off as just another app to update.

Meanwhile Instagram and other platforms continue to find ways to bring creative change to the social media universe.

We weren’t missing social media stories. We already had it in multiple versions. Twitter missed an opportunity to innovate and bring something fresh just like when it was launched in 2006.

Creative innovation in your career or business is risky. But uniformity is riskier.

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