When Does Innovation Fail to Work?

Safe to Fail illustrationGuest Post By Robert Rayford

On an almost daily basis, we meet with reports of exciting innovations across various aspects of life. Of these, some will go on to become globally popular, while others will sink without trace. Many return to the science lab and develop further before starting the cycle again.

Successful innovations become so for many reasons, primarily because they are an exciting product that people can relate to and engage with it. What about those innovations we never see again, and speak of years later with a fun sense of derision?

How did they fail when they should have succeeded?

Tell, Not Listen

Perhaps the biggest problem in the world right now is that there are far too many entities, from governments to commercial television companies, telling people what they want rather than asking and listening.

Not surprisingly, this is where innovation falls down, too. Companies far and wide want to tell us how innovative their latest product or idea is, failing to recognize that it is the consumer that ultimately decides whether or not something fits the bill.

As with any walk of life, constantly talking and failing to listen is a recipe for disaster.

High Costs

There are often reports of amazing products and ideas in the news, which everyone around the world emotionally invests in and thinks it really has the ‘wow factor.’

It then all comes crashing down when we see the price.

Saying that a new sports car is innovative is fine, and promoting the merits of commercial space flight seems like a great idea, but if only a very small percentage of people can benefit from it, is it really an innovation?

Poor Marketing

Some of the best ideas for innovation on the planet are probably written in notebooks around the world. The problem that many inventors face is that they simply have no idea how to take their product to market. Television shows such as the globally successful Dragon’s Den have helped to some extent, but the people appearing on it represent a very minute proportion of the population that it almost doesn’t make a difference.

That said, there are companies who have the ability to market products but just do so badly, so that no-one cares or invests in them. This often goes back to ‘telling, not listening,’ but is often a combination of factors, such as poorly conducted market research and a failure to properly identify a target market.

Exciting innovations are one of the most brilliant things we can experience in our lives, and we would see much more of it if the ‘innovators’ better considered some of the above points.

Robert Rayford works for Posterita, innovative retail point-of-sale (POS) software that allows chain stores and single stores to manage every aspect of their operations via an easy-to-use web-based platform.

Image made available under Creative Commons license by Dean Meyers on Flickr.