Innovation: Being Everything for Somebody

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May 24, 2012
Thoughts by
Tyler Hagler

Not Something for Everybody

Sometimes you hear a compelling speaker, and you just can’t get it out of your head in the following days and weeks.  We had this happen to us at last year’s Carolinas PDMA Innovate Carolina conference with David Burney’s compelling breakout session on community-driven innovation through his work at New Kind and Red Hat. And this year, it’s happened again at the same conference, 2012 edition. Thanks a lot, Greg Hopper.

Professor Hopper, an adjunct professor at Duke University and a senior product manager with the office of the chief technology officer at RTP’s NetApp, is somebody who has helped shape our path at Trig. With his most recent talk at the PDMA event in April, Greg has influenced how we think of our service delivery.  You can watch his talk on YouTube by following this Greg Hopper 2012 Keynote Presentation

One reason why it continues to resonate with us, is that our own sponsorship of this event delivered one of our emerging service areas, video production, to the conference organizers. Thus, we’ve had the opportunity to see this great speech live and over and over again as we’ve been editing for the PDMA folks. 

One of Greg’s more salient points was the idea that companies should strive to be everything for somebody, instead of trying to be something for everybody. He quoted the author Geoffrey Moore (Escape Velocity), who describes this as the concept of the “Whole Product,” defined as:

The minimum set of products and services necessary to get a particular job done, giving the client a compelling reason to buy. 

This is a powerful idea, one that resonates with the Trig team, because it describes our organic growth of services over the past four years to be able to provide turnkey product design and product marketing solutions.  We have been very fortunate to work with amazing clients, and those clients have rewarded us by continuing to come back with new challenges that drive our service growth.  

Our clients generally ask for new services because we already intimately know their products through ideation, industrial design, and development services.  Thus, when they come back to us and ask for deliverables like patent drafting, animation, video, and marketing, we’ve said, “Well, let’s make it happen!”  Today, we've found the expanded service framework has enabled small and medium-sized business to perform at the same level of quality as a Fortune 500 company. 

Moore’s principle of the 'Whole Product' applies to traditional consumer goods industries as well, as companies are willing to focus their aperture on a select niche of customers and completely owning that space.  Greg’s resonant example was the German automaker Porsche. He outlined the marketplace shock when Porsche announced the launch of its SUV, the Cayenne.

With deadpan humor, Professor Hopper noted that there was little consumer research to suggest high demand for an SUV that could go 0 to 60 miles per hour within four seconds, and he keenly noted that the Cayenne had no trailer hitch. But the larger point is that Porsche gets the ‘Whole Product’ concept as well as anybody.  Just as Trig customers may want to do different services to stay within the Trig experience and not seek other vendor specialists, so, too are Porsche drivers loyal to the German automaker’s brand experience. Porsche knew they wouldn’t steal market share from Ford, Honda, or even BMW. They were making an SUV for Porsche loyalists—being everything to this group of somebodies—and if anyone else came to the party, well, the more the merrier.

Tyler Hagler

As a career industrial designer and innovation practitioner, Ty Hagler has managed hundreds of new product development programs through the process of opportunity identification guided to commercialization.


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