New apps, technologies and trends — ‘ideas’ — are a dime a dozen these days, says Brian Solis, Principal, Altimeter Group. What this means, he tells the audience at LeWeb, is that innovation is now a constant, and you need to think differently about technology to create for the next 10 years. You need to disrupt.
Disruption as a concept has been, and will be, interpreted in many ways some more accurate than others. For Solis though, disruption is technology that changes markets. The prime example he gives: sliced bread. Sliced bread created an entire marketplace for spreads, accompaniments etc. Sliced bread was a truly disruptive technology.
The way we think about disruption is important too. “Disruption is not something we set out to do. It is something that happens because of what we do,” stresses Solis. Disruption changes human behaviour (think: iPhone) and it’s a mixture of both ‘design-thinking and system-thinking’ to get there. So as an innovator, where do you begin if you don’t start with attempting disruption. To boil down Solis’ message into a word: ‘empathy.’
That’s right, empathy. Empathy drives the core of your vision as an innovator, or so it should says Solis.
Solis says that there are only two ways to change human behaviour, by manipulating people, or by inspiring them. If you choose the former, good luck on your journey, but if you would prefer to attempt the latter with your innovative attempts, then you should start with empathy: the why of your product or company. That is how you will capture attention, and hold onto it, especially in the technologically, socially-driven world today.
If you start with the why, before the how and what of your product or service, then you can build something bigger than what you set out to create — you can build a platform, an ecosystem.
It’s hard to know if you are onto something, and Solis argues that both good ideas and bad ideas sound ridiculous at the beginning. But if you can build creative destruction into your business model, you’re already approaching technology differently. Set out to solve a problem yes, but also aim to create a market around the idea, all from that original empathy.
Solis says that innovating for the next ten years will be part problem-solving, part design-thinking. But there are four aspects you should apply when you set out to create something, in order they are:
- Empathy (the why)
- Context (the connected world in which you are building something)
- Creativity (in your approach to problem-solving)
- Logic (the rationality to test what you have created)
If your idea can progress towards an ecosystem — a platform — then you are already going to go a long way to disrupting a market. For Solis, Tesla showcases this brilliantly, in its approach to how it builds the Tesla car, how it sells it — beyond the traditional dealership — and how they are creating the infrastructure (recharge stations across American states) to support the product.