What Makes a Business Idea Truly Innovative?

By Paul Hawkins and Joanna Wyganowska

Here, in the Crazy Might Work laboratory, we have mapped the business innovation genome and found that it comprises three core elements. The DNA of business innovation is:

  1. Desirability;
  2. Novelty; and
  3. Aptness.
Is it Desirable?

Desire conquers all when it comes to innovation. It is more important than financial viability or technical feasibility because, if our desire for the innovation is strong enough, it will generally find a way to manifest over time.

For example, fictional and prototype computer tablets first appeared in literature in the 1950’s and were popularised by ‘Star Trek’ in the 1980’s. The Starfleet officers used hand-held, networked touchscreen computers called PADDs (Personal Access Display Devices) for watching videos and listening to music, long before they were technically feasible and commercially viable. Our collective imagination had been fired up and so it was just a matter of time until someone figured out how to make and sell tablet PC’s. ‘Desirability’ can ultimately be measured in ‘units sold’ or other indicators of market demand.

R2D2 Nice
Is it Novel?

We’re not referring to the latest catwalk curiosity here. By ‘novelty’ we mean something that is both ‘new’ and ‘unique’ at the time that it is introduced. Truly novel innovation sticks and, in many cases, is imitated (or built upon) by others. The individual components of an innovation need not be revolutionary and it is quite often the way in which existing inventions are combined that creates a new or unique offering.

Think about the roller-wheel suitcase, where two seemingly unrelated things (roller wheels and a storage trunk) came together as a unique and highly desirable product. This extraordinary juxtaposition would have blown people’s minds at the time and revolutionised the travel experience!

We think about ‘novelty’ as a measure of originality and, whilst ‘patent-ability’ is an obvious way of judging this for certain kinds of inventions, others will require a more subjective scan of what was in the world before our latest wondrous innovation!


paperclips & posti-ts
Is it Apt?

In other words, does it stick with us like a post-it note? Or hold our stuff together like a paper clip?’

The humble paper clip was invented in the 1860’s by Samuel Fay and has held its ground against all comers, because it is such an apt solution to a certain kind of paper problem. As ‘low-tech’ as it is, the steel wire bent into a loop has been incredibly resilient, still holding the world title after more than 150 years!

‘Aptness’ is a measure of how effectively an innovation meets a customer need and can be explored nicely using contemporary prototyping techniques. More mature solutions are ripe for good old customer satisfaction measures and net promoter scores!


About Crazy Might Work

Without harming animals, we have mapped the innovation genome. Our elixir for innovative mutation comprises a quirky cocktail of human-centred design, systems thinking, transformational change, portfolio and program management that delivers an innovation culture. It can be administered to willing partners anywhere, creating cross-organisational, or even cross-industry, innovation orgs, hubs and clusters. Catch Paul Hawkins, Found & CEO of Crazy Might Work, at the NSW Customer Experience (CX) Summit in Sydney on 21st of June. Click here to learn more about Paul’s session, ‘The Genie Has Left The Bottle’!


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