When it comes to innovation, usually our first thought is on the product or service, ideally highly differentiated from other products or services already on the market. All too often, though, what eventually comes out is a product that is mired in the past, fairly close to the rest of the line of products that a company makes. It’s all very functional and efficient.
Think of your last meal at a restaurant (one where you actually sit down and take time to enjoy your food). While the food may be excellent, the rest of the experience is fairly tamed. The plates are all the same. The table setting is the same on every table. The waiters are basically dressed casually in inconspicuous clothing that bring no attention to them. The script they go through is the same (drinks, entrees, dessert/coffee, good bye). At best, the restaurant has some level of ambience that has been built in to give a feel of whatever positioning they have. So if the food isn’t great, there isn’t that much there to differentiate this restaurant from another one down the street.
Disney got it right. It’s all about the experience. Maybe even more so than the food (it’s not like the food at Disneyland is top notch). But if you have great food (the product) and a great experience, you get holistic innovation.
Why is it that all pasta containers are all the same? It’s easy and efficient.
Why are all cereals in rectangular boxes? It’s easy and efficient.
All yogurt were in cups not that long ago. Then came Faye and Chiobani with the flip yogurt trays. You get to see the fruit. You get to mix the fruit in just the way you want. You get to enjoy a great product and have a great experience with it. That is what consumers are looking for these days. They want to experience the products, not just get a functional product.
Steve Jobs got it right. It’s not about making a call on a phone. It’s about the design, the user-friendly interface, etc. It’s an experience.
Let’s look at product development a bit more holistically…and we will see better results!