Saturday, January 19, 2008

my #1 pick for best out-of-box business move

Andy Grove, one of the inspirational founders of chip giant Intel Corporation, was recently interviewed about his thoughts on how big companies can overcome the glass ceiling of growth. He touted the importance for corporations to think way outside-the-box and consider entering entirely different industries to achieve the type of growth Wall Street expects of them. As an example he praised Apple for their innovative move into the music industry and retail giant Walmart for adding health clinics to some of their stores.

This got me thinking; what would I consider the most innovative move in recent memory that exemplifies this right turn approach to driving new business? As I sat on my couch pondering this point my attention mindlessly drifted to my six year old son who was embroiled in an intense battle between good and evil with ubervillian Darth Vader in the Lego Star Wars game for the Wii. And as I watched my son gleefully blow Darth Vader's little Lego head off it occurred to me how unbelievably creative and ground breaking a move it was for Lego to release this version of the game.

By making the animated characters Lego pieces instead of people, the company avoided the blood and guts animations typically prevalent in fighting games. This opened their product to a whole new market: what I call the "post-todds"--six to 9 year olds who are "too old for baby toys" (read in dramatic hands-on-hips whine) but not old enough for the typically violent video fighting games. What's even more genius about this move is that most parents of children this age are in their mid-thirties. This the same generation who, as kids, had their own minds blown by the original Star Wars movie trilogy. [How do I know this? Um, because my husband and I and nearly all our friends encompass this exact demographic.]

If you add the extension of the Lego brand into the Lego amusement park and the Lego science fairs and building contests, you have a darn terrific example of a risky right turn business move that has paid off in exponential dividends. Add the Lego Website which includes the "Lego Network"--a tool that allows kids to build their own Web pages--and you've got a dose of pure marketing and product genius at work.

I pause to bow in honor of the Lego marketing and product departments while chanting "I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy."

All tongue-in-cheek aside, this is exactly what Andy Grove was talking about. When faced with fierce competition and price pressures the best thing for an organization to do is innovate. Step outside your company's comfort zone and embrace a new direction. You never know, you might just be the next BIG thing. Or at least you could be the talk of the playground. And that is an honor EVERY company should covet since those kids are really consumers-in-training.

1 comment:

Freya said...

Hi Kelly,

I simply loved your post. Out of all the things that you have mentioned, the most striking of them all for me was the sentence where you say 'When faced with fierce competition and price pressure, the best thing for an organization to do is innovate'. I am working as the head of market research at a Knowledge Processing Outsourcing firm based in India. From our end we have tried to do something similar. For the past few months I have being involved with researching Web 2.0 and how it can be used for behavioral mapping. We have branded our service as Targeted User Generated Content Marketing Solutions (TUGCMS). We study the behavior of the potential consumer for the industry, find the passionistas/influencers from that list and provide this to the client. We have a exhaustive methodology that assimilates comprehensive information on Passionistas. That is exactly how I came upon your blog.

There are a lot of concerns regarding Web 2.0 and use of social media being an effective source of BT. During the months of researching the concept, we have also come with ways that will deal with these issues and concerns. We also stumbled upon a case study of a reputed company to showcase the success of using Web 2.0 in monetary terms.We have an orange paper and a webcast on the way we do it, it will be up on our website.