Breakthrough innovators have a no trade-off mentality
In her paper Turning Design Thinking into Design Doing, Heather Fraser highlights that breakthrough innovators have a “no trade-off” mindset. Not accepting any trade-off is a form of connecting the dots: there is A and there is B, people say we can’t have both but somehow the innovator finds a way to connect them. When all marketing text books are about making trade-offs, this is a refreshing statement.
Bill Ford, recently interviewed by McKinsey Quarterly, provides a great illustration: “traditionally, fuel-efficient vehicles were seen as cheap and not fun to drive, so you really had a double whammy in terms of the acceptance of fuel economy. Now fuel prices have risen, and the technology has developed to the point where we can give customers great fuel economy and a great driving experience; they don’t have to make that trade-off anymore.”
Now, few people would spontaneously name Ford Motor Company as a highly innovative company. Bill Ford is the first to acknowledge that fuel efficient vehicles have been developed and successfully marketed in Europe for years. But innovation is not necessarily the same as invention. While Fuel efficient vehicles may have been “invented” in Europe, Ford’s innovation was to associate the idea of fuel efficient vehicles with the US market. A classic case of making old with new.
Interestingly – coincidentally? – Ford Motor company was the only one of the Detroit giants not to call on government bail-out money or file for bankruptcy. Would innovation be paying off?
Heather Fraser’s article can be found at rotman.utoronto.ca
Bill Ford interview can be found at McKinsey Quarterly.
Ford Motor company environmental innovations can be found at Drive Green.