Successful Innovations Come From Being Pessimistic And Grumpy!

At The Strategy Distillery, we worked out long ago that no good product innovation came of looking on the bright side. Brilliant and successful innovations usually start with gripes, groans, moans, whinges and ‘bugs’.

So here are three easy ways to embrace your inner grump:

Be Hyper Critical of Competitors 

Even clever-clogs like P&G get it wrong sometimes. So don’t be dazzled by the success of your competitors; pick holes in everything they do. Their oversights are your opportunities.

For example, on the face of it this great new clothes stain wipe from P&G looks great but…

  • Do they know that’s the best product claim?
  • Have they got the right reason to believe (RTB)?
  • Is there a better way to express the product claim/RTB so the consumer gets it?
  • Is this the best structural pack for the likely usage occasion(s)?
  • The category talks a lot about X but has that become a hygiene factor or ‘expected norm’ to the consumer?

  and so on… 

Be Sarcastic

Play a sarcastic game with yourself where you list out all the ways you wouldn’t solve a product or brand challenge. Say to yourself/your team: “Well we don’t know how to create a perfect solution to X but we know what we definitely wouldn’t do…” and list out all the ways of doing it ‘wrong’. This will give you gripes, whinges and bugs to begin solving and exploring possible solutions.

For example, I will create a clothes stain wipe that:

  • Has a pungent noticeable smell, that is really obvious
  • Takes ages to dry leaving a wet patch
  • Might damage clothes
  • Comes in a bulky packaging that I can’t take anywhere
  • Drys out in between uses


Be Very Pessimistic

Look at your product idea and ask yourself what are all the reasons it will fail. For example:

  • What are all the things that could go wrong or we might not have got right. What are the contingencies? Can we quickly test out our hypotheses?
  • What are all the reasons the consumer WON’T buy this product and how might you overcome them?
  • What is the competition likely to do to combat your product idea? So what can we do to delay their ability to catch up or challenge us?

Go on, get grumpy and get better innovation!