November 30, 2023 By IBM Think 2 min read

Arvind Krishna recently spoke with former IBMer and author Danny Sabbah about a new book he co-authored, The Heart of Innovation: A Field Guide for Navigating to Authentic Demand. In their conversation, Arvind and Danny discussed the secret to determining authentic demand and building innovative products that achieve runaway success.

Here are five facts about innovation, taken from the book and their conversation, that may surprise you:

  1. While major technology breakthroughs dominate our perception of innovation—think the Xerox machine, the IBM PC, the Apple iPhone—those are few and far between. In fact, around two-thirds of all market launches collapse within a year.
  2. Successful innovation requires understanding demand. One example from The Heart of Innovation centers around building a product for recreational fishermen. The product faltered at first. Why? Because the focus was on the “fishermen” aspect rather than the “recreational” appeal. Once the team realized it was really the “recreational” aspect that drove demand, the market exploded.
  3. A key to achieving runaway success for a product is the notion of “negative thinking.” Think about demand from a “not‑not” perspective; how to evolve the product from “It would be nice to have this” to “I can’t not have this.” It’s about understanding what turns the product into something that is compelling and unavoidable to help you overcome that wall of fundamental indifference.
  4. Inherent biases, blind spots and false assumptions can impact innovation. This can include seeking out information that confirms our existing beliefs; continuing to invest time, money and resources in a project because of what we’ve already put into it; and misunderstanding information based on the way it is presented or framed. For example, patients will consistently choose a doctor who describes a medical procedure as having a 90% success rate over another doctor who describes the same procedure as having a 10% failure rate.
  5. Innovation rarely relies on a “eureka moment.” It is often a slow, grinding process. As this uniquely insightful book reveals, that process should start by developing a rigorous, science-based approach to identifying authentic demand and recognizing the effects of bias.

Go deeper into the secrets to successful innovation with Arvind and Danny in their fireside chat, including moving from “alchemy to chemistry,” addressing an unmet need to create authentic demand and more.

Watch the video via the IBM Media Center
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