Do you work for a company that boasts of innovative products, a newer, better, smarter, faster, easier, cheaper way of doing things? Has your organization come up with something completely new that charts fresh new waters; an idea or a product that sparks imagination, and will have a meaningful impact on whatever the newest “widget” addresses?I was fortunate enough to glimpse into one of those new ideas recently. It was fun and interesting to have a seat at the table, and absorb the fresh air generated from the participants at a planning meeting.
The meeting was about a new way to treat kidney stones. Do you know anyone who has kidney stone disease? I understand having a kidney stone is epic on the pain scale, and if you could use kidney stones as an interrogation technique, subjects would spill the beans in nanoseconds. Around 50 million Americans suffer from kidney stone disease, and for anyone who knows the extreme pain of a kidney stone attack, you are probably wincing right now.
With 50 million kidney stone sufferersin the US, let alone kidney stone sufferers around the world, one would think modern medicine would offer a multitude of treatments for stone disease. When diagnosed with kidney stones, most physicians (urologists and nephrologists) tell their patients to drink a lot of water (2.5 quarts a day) and lemon juice. If this is not high tech enough for you, other suggestions include a low sodium diet and decrease the intake of animal protein, aka, red meat. It appears high protein diets, muscle milk and protein supplements are a breeding ground for kidney stones. Wait, I almost forgot, many physicians also recommend drinking apple cider vinegar too, you are kidding me!!
Enter innovation! I was in Pittsburgh, the kidney stone capital of the world—just kiddingwhere a group of doctors, beverage mixologists (people who flavor everything we drink), marketing gurus, and a beverage industry titan were developing initial plans to launch something new, better, and a healthier way of treating kidney stone disease. Innovation for them meant creating a drink with lemon juice, potassium citrate, vitamin B6 and some incredible flavors anyone would enjoy drinking, even if you don’t have kidney stones. No prescription needed or possible complications from toxic medicines, unless you might suffer side effects from drinking a beverage with flavors like: Peach Mango, Honey Ginger, Lemon Lime, or Watermelon Mint.
I eagerly listened to these experts talk about marketing, branding, distribution, and even participated in a taste testing. These guys are dead serious about introducing a truly innovative product to the market that will have a significant impact in reducing the risk of patients suffering a kidney stone event, aka, more pain than having a barrel of monkeys fall on your head. This is new, it is fresh, it is a solution that does not exist for the 50 million Americans who suffer from stone disease. Aside from thinking about the great things this drink will offer, I could only put my business hat on, and image the gazillions these guys are going to make off from the sales of this beverage. Who knows, perhaps win a Nobel Prize in medicine?
Earth to Marty! While the idea is new, is needed by millions, provides something that is not currently available, and tastes pretty, pretty damn good, the beverage titan in the room told everyone that products like this have a 98% failure rate. Personally, I would have preferred if he re-phrased it, and said drinks like this have a 2% success rate—It’s all how you look at it, right!
So, why are these guys pursuing such a daunting task? On the upside, they all know that surveys show that almost one third of consumers will try a new product that is affordable, and offers convenience (all of the things needed to treat stone disease in one place, and tasty). But, I noticed something else about this group; they were all willing to take a risk, less worried about failure than pushing the system norms and being comfortable with the status quo. They weren’t thinking about the 98%, but rather that special 2% possibility of what if. Think where we would be if the people driving innovation over the last 50 years only worried about the 98% potential failure rate. Would we have smart phones, tablets faster than a room full of computers 50 years ago, new life saving medicines/treatments, doggie poop bags (genius), electric cars, or Wi-Fi—which none of us could function without—even on vacation?
Innovation seems to happen when we get out of our personal comfort zone, and no longer accept the system norms. Does this describe you? We all want to be on the far end of the curve and discover something better, faster, simpler, cheaper that we can introduce to others, whether it is for clients, or for friends and family. Innovation, and the ability to come up with something new and different resides in all of us. It comes from alpha brain waves, or that ah ha moment. Alpha waves happen when the mind is calm and relaxed, and alert, all at the same time. Think about taking a hot shower when you are calm from the hot water cascading over your body, and at the same time your mind is alert. Ever have an inspiring thought in the shower?
Can you get out of your comfort zone and push your edge to create a new norm? Don’t think about the 98%because it does not serve you. In fact, it only plays into the conditioning that has directed us for years. Think about all of the messages we heard growing up—don’t try that, it will never work, or what are you thinking! Funny, right now you might be thinking we grew up in the same house. Well, your thoughts can overcome the conditioning you have lived with for years. Begin using the deep acumen that has always been there to push past the barriers of your own thoughts. Those guys in Pittsburgh were not thinking about failure, they were driven by new and exciting thoughts, goals, and a desire to create something new. One of them said, “It would be a failure if we did not try this.”
Now, you can become an innovator at workor in life! Have fun creating new ideas, moving past talking about problems, and channeling your brain to find solutions. Break through your conditioning and access your alpha brain waves. It is pretty exciting stuff, and if you can become an innovator, others will join in as well. Imagine the possibilities, a world of innovators! Just remember, when thinking about the next new great thing, take bottled water, doggie poop bags, and the slinky off of your list.