By Denis J. Hauptly
Regarding answers to our economic challenges, President Obama in his State of the Union Address included “the imaginations of our entrepreneurs.” Rarely do politicians’ statements receive universal acceptance, but that statement could. It is difficult to conceive of an executive, an entrepreneur, or anyone well versed in the history of business success who would disagree. In the United States, entrepreneurial innovation has fueled business success for generations, making Something Really New timely and relevant.
In his introduction, Hauptly is candid about his thesis: “…in the world of product and service innovation, utility is the driving force.” Much has been written about the value of appearance, design, and novelty; Hauptly transcends those in favor of utilitarianism. Out of that framework, he develops three fundamental questions that should guide the quest for innovation:
- What practical use will proposed innovative services or products provide?
- How can we simplify the production and the delivery of products or services?
- After utilizing products or services, what are the next tasks that customers will want to perform?
The book abounds with simple examples that illustrate his premise. For example, subway riders were unhappy with small, easily misplaced tokens, so a municipality made them larger. Here, the misplaced assumption was that enhanced design would remedy the problem, according to the author. But the better assumption would have been that subway riders really want more efficient access to transportation. Consequently, a better solution would have been the convenience of using debit cards.
The subtitle is a bit misleading as it singles out products. Actually, Hauptly applies his paradigm and practices to services as well and he explores the effects of organizational cultures and internal processes on innovation. However, the gist of this handy volume focuses on the application of Hauptly’s triune model the three fundamental questions that should guide the quest for innovation.