- Stop punishing small mistakes — they can lead to big discoveries. The list of things discovered by accident are endless — penicillin, the pacemaker, Scotchgard, etc. There is a well-founded industry rumor that follows suit. Changing ignition timing to induce reverse crankshaft rotation on 2-stroke engines is used in the snowmobile industry today to drive sleds in reverse. This was allegedly discovered by mistake when Ski-Doo technicians were running a machine suffering from an enormous backfire. The backfire was so pronounced that it reversed the ignition cycle. The crazy thing was, it still ran, and by optimizing this lightweight design solution, it became a standard in an industry obsessed with power-to-weight ratio. A careful observation of failures can help companies define better products. Managers looking for innovation should encourage trial and error. Let people play and push the envelope a little. Employees who are afraid to fail will not become prolific innovators.
- Join “The Numerati.” This is the title of a book about so-called “big data” by Stephen Baker. Part of Innovation3 is speed to market, and data mining is the most empowering technology ever in this regard. Although there are flaws and legitimate privacy concerns with so-called big data, data mining need not be creepy in application. Polaris’ MVP ordering system is a stellar example of how to infuse data company-wide to deliver speedier product delivery solutions. Data mining also opens up a universe of new marketing options because it helps to identify demographic “tribes” that are not otherwise obvious, like outlining the shape of a constellation amidst a night sky full of stars. Large corporations will simply cease to exist if they do not leverage data regarding their customers. Small businesses also have a growing list of options for capturing strategic information sets. Get in touch with one of the great organizations offering dealer sales databases. Also, spend some time looking at Google search trends, Google Correlate and Topsy. For example, I searched for “motorcycle battery” on Google Correlate and searches for lawn care products had the strongest seasonal correlation.
- Cross-pollinate. The best way to do this is to learn about other industries. Be habitually curious and look for patterns that could translate into powersports. Some of my favorite innovators today include Elon Musk and Andrew Dyson. Imagine if Mr. Dyson could turn his wondrous knowledge of air flow management to make a nearly silent hovercraft-like off-road vehicle. Could we achieve a true zero-impact, high-adrenaline off-road experience? I wonder. Then there is lighting. Motorcycles and UTVs are gradually migrating to LED designs. What many don’t know yet is that LEDs have the curious ability to be modulated to transmit and receive data — it is called “Li-Fi” and has similar function to Wi-Fi but it uses light instead of radio waves. Li-Fi is already being marketed for office data systems, and the new EXTRIGGER concept motorcycle from Suzuki incorporates it. Lidar is another LED-based technology. It can measure 3-D shapes accurately. Imagine if a motorcycle could seamlessly channel an entire dealership? When the rider looks for their next motorcycle jacket the motorcycle itself could use Lidar to scan their form while they move in various positions and then communicate back to them with options.
Innovation at its best is holistic; it needs to be a complete thought to be profitable. Tesla is a great example of doing everything as well as it can be done in the year 2013. Such innovation raises the standard, sometimes forever. Look at music. J.S. Bach penned music that is the essence of genius, combining instrumental qualities and musical themes with such skill that many people are able to gain inspiration from his work today. Bach changed the definition of music, but his impact has multiplied due to subsequent innovations in the development and delivery of musical products. If it were not for FM radio, the music synthesizer, CDs and MP3s, we may no longer be familiar with Bach here in the United States. Improvements in development and delivery systems will likewise let more customers worldwide enjoy great motorcycle, UTV and other powersports designs. The bottom line is that the powersports industry now needs to look at “define, develop and deliver” as all one. The future no longer belongs to those who are just innovative; it belongs to those who master innovation3.
To read Part 1 of Innovation3, click here.
Powersports consultant Gary Gustafson designs, develops and delivers innovative business growth strategies for powersports suppliers from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Find more information about G-Force Consulting on the web at www.gforceconsulting.com.