When most companies think of innovation, they think of overhauling their current product lines. While that may not be a bad goal, taking a myopic
approach is typically self-limiting. Taking a step back and looking at your product in the context in which it’s used (“peripheral vision”) can lead to more, high-potential ideas. Let me give you an example.
I recently wanted to find a gym that my company could join. Since this was not only for myself, but also for my employees, I spent some time finding
out what their interests and needs were for this opportunity. Good exercise equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines, etc.) was a given. A few other offerings made our wish list, and these items were compiled as well. With that information in hand, we began looking and comparing. The
closest gym to our office (proximity was high on the list of “needs”) had all of the exercise equipment that we needed, but had no locker room with showers. Since our office does not have showers, this is a must to be practical. We ended up joining a gym further away that could provide us with both the desired equipment and the locker rooms with showers. Interestingly enough, the first gym provided everything that was needed for fitness and exercise. In fact, much of their equipment was state of the art in terms of design and innovation. However they did not get our business. The
second gym used a bit of peripheral vision when designing their facility and realized that showers and a changing room, while not directly tied to exercise or fitness, were important features for their customers.
How could they take this peripheral vision concept a step further? Providing showers allows customers to leave the facility clean, but what are they
lugging out with them? A gym bag full of nasty, sweaty clothes. These clothes can’t be worn again in their current state, so the exerciser must now keep them contained in their car and remember to wash them. The act of exercising has caused the need for additional time and effort. How much would a gym separate themselves from the pack by expanding their offering? Why not provide members with a locker and laundry service? Imagine putting your sweaty clothes in a bin when you were done and finding them washed, dried and in your locker upon your next visit? This could be an optional, up-sell service. How many customers would pay a monthly premium to not have to deal with the extra laundry or to have the ability to go to the gym
on a moment’s notice knowing they’ll have clean workout clothes waiting for them? While a laundry service has even less to do with fitness than a shower does, this compelling offering would satisfy even more unmet needs of their customer.
What approach are you taking with your business? Are you just keeping your core offerings competitive? Or are you looking at the bigger picture of your consumers’ unmet needs? The next time you embark on an innovation project, try the peripheral vision approach. It will open up many opportunities that you would not otherwise consider.