Imagine Being Slapped With the Word ‘No’ 5,127 Times.


‘Very clever’. An overheard comment about James Dyson.
‘Very clever’. An overheard comment about Sir James Dyson and his products.

Recently at a marketing seminar the name, James Dyson, came up.

Oh, the vacuum cleaner guy? someone said.

Well, make that the radically different vacuum cleaner, fan, heater, and hand dryer guy and maybe the guy with several other innovations being developed under wraps.

Have you noticed? There’s a curious mind at work here. It’s actually Sir James Dyson and firing on his own instincts, he’s found his own way of doing things.

The result is what we now recognize as product revolutions in form and function.

The thought of a fan that’s more efficient without whirling blades is a bit of a wonder, not to mention something that has the visual appeal of a work of art.

Boof! – it hits you with its difference.

Will it become part of the Museum of Modern Art collection? Probably.

Like Steve Jobs, design is a Sir James thing.

But to get an idea of how hard it can be to succeed with new thinking, try this exercise at your next marketing meeting.

Buy enough Post-It Notes to overflow a shopping basket.

With a red marker write the word ‘NO’ on 5,127 sheets and stick them up on the wall.

That should get the attention of more than a few people in your group.

Sir James endured every one those ‘NO’ rejections with 5,127 vacuum cleaner prototypes before breaking through.

It’s fascinating to note … his stunning designs didn’t come from listening to the voice of the customer.

They came from curiosity, observation, research and a highly original mind.

Given Sir James’ current success, past rejections are a reminder of the Decca Records exec, Dick Rowe, who turned down the Beatles with the comment, ‘we don’t like their sound.’

Yeah right, Dick.

A visit to Sears yesterday confirmed that Dyson vacuum cleaners are so successful other manufacturers are copying them.

Typical, isn’t it?

But more on the subject of innovation … switch your focus from the 5,127 Sir James rejections on your wall to the paper they’re written on.

The Post-It Notes themselves.

A chemist at 3M invented them. He’s called Art Wall.

He created a glue that only ‘half-sticks’ which of course is a category contradiction in the age of super glue.

So nothing happened.

Wall’s project was stalled for 10 years while he searched for an application.

But the  eventual result, Post-It Notes, spurred 3M by becoming its biggest seller.

So much for the ‘failure’ of glue that only half-sticks.

If you happen to use these innovation examples at your next marketing meeting, don’t forget one thing.

Invite a group of people who are vital to you and your  team.

Those in your R&D department.

That way you can encourage a whole new level of integration in your company.

Share your take on innovation with us. As you no doubt know, another example of creating a new category is Chrysler’s Minivan. Here it is on day one of its existence. Thanks for reading Regards, Steve Ulin





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