Better and Faster: The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas
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These are the three hunter instincts—insatiability, curiosity, and willingness to destroy.
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To stay inspired, we’d perpetually hunt for ideas together, devouring hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Our living room table was a collage of media. We’d flip through copies of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Time, Newsweek, Car & Driver, Automobile, Motor Trend, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, and National Geographic. We’d examine each new product, quizzing each other on whether it would be successful and how we might change it.
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across all industries, opportunity seems to follow six major patterns: convergence, divergence, cyclicality, redirection, reduction, and acceleration
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there are six major patterns of opportunity that are created by nearly every major breakthrough product. Thus, you can use these patterns to predict or uncover future business opportunities that will be indirectly fueled by a burgeoning megatrend associated with that product. Much like the way the Blackfoot tribe would redirect the flow of a stampeding herd of buffalo, you can redirect the momentum of another company’s success to your advantage. It may seem counterintuitive, but this phenomenon is something we’ve spotted time and time again at Trend Hunter. Competition can become an asset if ...more
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Enter Twitter, a place where a person can “follow” random strangers. Meanwhile, the permanence of Facebook as a personal archive breeds fear that photos might be seen by those who shouldn’t see them, inhibiting the ability to share freely. This could well spawn a craving for something temporary. Enter SnapChat, a place for sharing temporary photos,
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Finally, although Facebook’s mechanism for sharing people’s everyday lives can be useful and empowering, it also leads to oversharing and an Internet flooded with amateur smartphone photos. If you happen to be a lover of photographic art, you might want to bring the art back. Enter Instagram, a billion-dollar business that adds artistic filters to your mobile photos.
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The point is that none of the companies—not even Google—has been successful at directly taking on Facebook. The quicker, smarter, easier path to success is to hunt for the patterns of opportunity that a company, trend, or breakthrough might create.
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CONVERGENCE: Creating a winning business or product by combining multiple products, services, or trends. Includes: mixing, product integration, social integration, bringing people together, adding value through layering, drama, multifunctions, and co-branding.
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If something bugs you or triggers your curiosity, pay attention: there may be a creative combination of ideas that could turn into a big business idea.
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Zombies, Run! is a multidimensional running experience that combines your favorite music, GPS
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tracking, and the narrative of a heart-pounding zombie horror story. Pick your jogging path, and start running to the pace of a zombie drama that overrides the music. The iPhone app’s marketing description reads, “Get Fit. Escape Zombies. Become a Hero.” If your pace slows down, you’ll be warned that the zombies are catching up. Head toward a building, and you’ll be told to sprint to grab supplies. Immersed in an interactive story that’s constantly tracking your location, you’ll likely run faster.
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Ned Loach and Robert Gontier were two highly educated millennials looking for work and a greater purpose in life. Each had earned multiple degrees and certifications in the arts, but the extra qualifications left them wanting more. So the two dreamed of a way to channel their passions and create something incredible. Imagine you’re preparing to leave work Friday afternoon when you receive the week’s most anticipated e-mail, a cryptic note that reveals a secret location and bare-bones instructions: “Be at the old distillery at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow. Wear black.” What’s up? The following afternoon, ...more
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The practice of layering on immersion experiences is increasingly popular in a range of businesses and industries. Over 100,000 British fans recently rushed to join an IKEA Facebook page, hoping for the chance to spend the night in one of the company’s gigantic stores. One hundred pajama-clad patrons were invited to the IKEA sleepover party for a night of camping in their showroom while being treated to movies and spa services. In another example, the cable channel TNT found a sleepy little Belgium town where not too much happens and placed a pedestal in the center of the town square. On the ...more
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It starts by considering what interests young professionals. While they might enjoy video games and beer, they truly thrive when they’re given challenges. Motivated more by social achievements than by money, they crave new skills and qualifications. To satisfy all of these needs, while tapping into their preferred leisure activity, we created the ultimate workplace experiment in convergence. From a design perspective, our office is perfectly suited to young professionals. It’s a hip, 5,000-square-foot, brick-walled loft in Toronto’s fashion district. Our furnishings are a blend of modern and ...more
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Instead of holding dull office meetings, we put on beer parties, which involve individual work updates. Rather than employ traditional motivation tactics, we’ve created a video game–like system of reward, digitally projecting everyone’s stats on our wall. To make sure new people are challenged, we try to publish their work within their first few days, and we push each person to try new projects, categories, and styles of writing. To satisfy their need for new qualifications, we’ll run them through forty workshops and training sessions in just a few months, instructing them in interview ...more
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SUB-PATTERNS OF CONVERGENCE
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As we’ve seen in this chapter, convergence can take many different forms. Here is a cheat sheet of all the forms and sub-patterns that you can explore to help you find better ideas and opportunities—and find them faster.
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ALIGNING WITH MULTIPLE FORCES More than a decade ago, the scrappy start-up Method leaped into the cluttered market for bathroom soaps and cleaning agents, which was dominated by consumer packaged goods giants such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble (P&G). Method combined eco-friendly ingredients with design-centric packaging to create an overall vibe of sophistication. The extraordinary outcome: a line of cleaning products that soon racked up annual revenue of $100 million. Even more surprising was the impression the brand left on consumers, who were so taken with the elegance of the bottles ...more
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DIVERGENCE: Products and services designed to oppose or break free from the mainstream. This opportunity pattern extends beyond rebellion to include personalization, customization, status, and luxury.
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They knew that they needed a nonconventional marketing strategy. Mateschitz brought his counterintuitive beliefs to his college pal, Johannes Kastner, who’d founded an ad agency in Frankfurt six years earlier. Kastner agreed that the brown, syrupy concoction tasted “nasty,” but he took on the challenge. Kastner & Partners intentionally marketed Red Bull to be subversive.6 There’d be no traditional brand merchandising. The drink would be nonconformist, self-ironic, and polarizing. Pricing would be intentionally outrageous (three to six times the price of a Coke), helping to separate Red Bull ...more
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Red Bull wasn’t so much a drink as a divergent brand message buoyed by rumors and intrigue. It was this divergence that gave the company its momentum. In 1996, Vriens’s North American Red Bull launch budget was a paltry $2.5 million, a fraction of the $50 to $100 million normally required for a national launch. But Vriens hoped to generate buzz through other avenues. Urban myths or rumors can spread like wildfire, and they cost virtually nothing. You may have heard the bull balls rumor—the peculiar idea that taurine, Red Bull’s mystery ingredient, is extracted from bull testicles.
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That nutty concept appeals to testosterone-charged males, but it’s false. While a traditional corporation might issue a press release correction, Red Bull built an unmoderated fan site, which essentially functioned as a rumor mill. The company knew that when fans imagine your energy drink has phenomenal, mystical ingredients, that’s a rumor you want to run wild.
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Mateschitz summarized his unconventional strategy in Businessweek: “In the beginning, the high-school teachers who were against the product were at least as important as the students who were for it.… Newspapers a...
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Authority figures who railed against Red Bull only fanned the flames, making the mysterious drink seem just as alluring as other pursuits youths are unsuccessfully warned against—sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. The opposition handed the divergent product free advertising. The more they railed against it, the more Red Bull sold. After all, few things are more attractive to a young person than something prohibited by adults (for example, there’s compelling evidence that Nancy Reagan’s “Just...
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