Even the most innovative companies in the world occasionally produce innovation a bridge too far. Check out the picture below of a recently released Dyson industrial hand-blower with paper towels on top and a trash can below, taken at an NYC hotel bathroom. The innovation in question duly, visibly, and embarrassingly defeated by its non-technical precedent.
Innovation requires not an inside-looking-out perspective, but an outside-looking-in perspective. A perspective of how not the vision of the technology provider is served but instead how the convenience of a customer is served. The latter including factors that are often quite uneconomical, inconvenient, and outside the scope of a technology provider. Clearly, not all innovation worthy of displacement will be accepted by its audience.
The same thing happens in men’s grooming, where the invention of electrical trimmers still cannot beat certain conveniences of a good-old razor blade. For one, the razor blade combined with shaving cream provides an accurate picture of what part of the facial hair has been worked on, something an electrical shaver cannot do. Second, the closeness of following the skin contour is unmatched by the electrical shaver. The neatest shave is still owned by the suboptimization, and downstream evolution, of that old-fashioned razor blade.
Innovation must be defined by investigating the broadest ecosystem of factors that improve on its precedent, including the sensibility to factors that may have nothing to do with the advent of technology. Companies like Tesla and Quip have got this process of first establishing a new normalization of truth, upstream, down.
The overall experience, not just the technology, must be improved upon, especially in the realm of ruthless and fickle consumerism.