There are few products less sexy that a thermostat. It is a boring, utilitarian commodity, right? The world agreed for over 100 years, until the lead designer of the iPod decided to shake things up.
Tony Fadell took a completely fresh approach and challenged conventional wisdom. Rather than starting with the existing competitive set, he shattered industry norms from design to function. The result? The incredible new device known as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Besides its distinctive look, this baby ain't your father's thermostat. The artificial intelligence "learns" your habits. It has sensors to know when you are away so it doesn't heat or cool an empty house. It's connected to the web and evaluates external weather conditions to determine how to best respond inside. You can even control it from a smartphone app on the go.
All this whiz-bang technology does more than fuel your inner geek. The Nest saves its owners an average of 20% off their utility bills and helps reduce our reliance on foreign oil. All the while, it saves the environment by reducing emissions. Cool, huh?
It gets better. From a business perspective, the Nest sells for $250 each, and is completely sold-out. Compare that to the widely available and incredibly boring Honeywell programmable thermostat that sells for $22. That's right... the sold-out Nest sells for ten times the price of the find-anywhere industry standard.
Once again, innovation carries the day. Even in a commodity business that appeared to offer no room for breakthrough thinking, creative fire has charred competitors into dust overnight.
As author Gary Hamel famously said, "Somewhere there's an entrepreneur forging a bullet with your company's name on it. Your only option is to shoot first. You must out-innovate the innovators." Even if you are enjoying success, the disruptive forces of change can deliver a knockout blow at a moment's notice. To win today, you need to embody creativity and innovation. There's just no room for complacency.
Take a good look in the mirror and examine your own business. Are your products and services me-too commodities, or are they truly differentiated? Is there an opportunity to inject new thinking in either form or function to set the new standard?
Imagine there's a Nest equivalent in your own industry—some upstart that's just about to shatter the mold and reinvent the business. Now imagine that you are that disruptor. What would you do differently? How would you take on the sleeping giants? How could you apply creativity to your product, process, or communication to rock the very foundation of your field?
In today's competitive environment, staying the course is the kiss of death. Nest disrupted thermostats; what will you choose to do in your industry? It's time to sprint toward the future instead of clinging to the past. It's time to imagine what's possible, instead of just what is. It's time to turn up the heat.
Oh, wait...my Nest just did that for me.
For more insight and practical tools for innovation and creativity, please visit me at JoshLinkner.com