I was in my office sorting through mail after a week away from town when I unwrapped a magazine I never ordered. In my hand, it felt like a FastCompany magazine. It was thick, with heavy paper and bright graphics.
But when I flipped through the table of contents I found something completely unexpected. This wasn’t a mainstream Wired-esque magazine; instead, this was a glossy, well-designed adventure into spirituality.
It is that moment – when a customer expects one thing and finds it perfectly blended with something completely new – that I believe marks the sign of a great innovation.
You see, while EnlighteNext magazine looks like other popular publications, it actually fits more neatly in the spirituality section with articles like "Building the Foundations of a New Worldview," "The Interdynamics of Culture and Consciousness," and "Transcendent Sex."
Now I know magazines come and go and that the successful ones have their own unique angle. EnlightenNext definitely has its own direction, focusing on transforming human consciousness and culture, but its success goes beyond its articles.
EnlightenNext is different because it exemplifies one of the most important patterns of innovation, the same patterns that brought us Gatorade and Toys "R" Us. I found the magazine so interesting that I set up an interview with Carter Phipps, the executive editor of EnlightenNext.
The magazine grew from a small newsletter launched 17 years ago based on the philosophies of a spiritual thinker, Andrew Cohen. Over the years the newsletter grew into a magazine called What Is Enlightenment?
The magazine was dedicated, in part, to its own unique concept of evolution and focusing on the current changes in social consciousness. In line with this idea, the magazine’s management decided to evolve as well by changing the name from What is Enlightenment? to EnlightenNext, and by also changing the layout and design.
Management decided the magazine would become, as Phipps described, "the Wired magazine of the spiritual world." Instead of being one of those spiritual magazines found in yoga studios and printed on newspaper, EnlightenNext uses high-quality, glossy paper with fantastic photography and layout. While one might expect it to be filled with images of meditation centers and mountain streams, EnlightenNext is packed with in-depth articles ranging from business and politics to spirituality and science. If you did not read the magazine’s text, you might actually believe you are flipping through a mainstream publication.
My interview with Phipps was very interesting, and over the next couple of days, I will share what I learned about this unusual magazine. Phipps and other EnlightenNext staff are truly using innovation to creating a product that competitors won’t be too willing to copy, at least not yet.