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Monday
Oct032011

Two Key Questions to Spur Innovation

As part of Amazon’s announcement of their new Kindle Fire they also announced a new web browser called Silk

It’s a telling sign that the Amazon team didn’t start by trying to improve on Firefox or Chrome.  They took a step back and asked a much broader question – a question that ultimately enabled them to do something innovative:

               “How would you build a web browser in the era of cloud computing.”

To keep themselves from getting too focused on technology, they also asked another important question:

               “What do customers really care about?”

The Amazon team determined that the most important aspect of browsing the web on a mobile device was the time required to get something usable on the screen.

These two questions enabled the team at Amazon to think differently about browsing the web.  They were able to apply the latest technology to reinventing the web browser in a way that provides a significant benefit to their customers.

We can all learn from this example.  First, make sure you understand what your customers really care about.  Don’t guess – ask them! 

Next, rethink how you would build your product or service in the era of:

  • a new technology, like cloud computing
  • a new government regulation, like health care reform
  • a changing competitive landscape, like a new startup or global player in your market

Asking the questions is the easy part.  The hard part is to have the courage to act on the answers you and your team generate.