The scuba industry in Hawaii was facing a real problem. Declining sales, increased competition for shrinking entertainment dollars, and new consumer alternatives were creating a downward spiral. While scuba diving was an incredible experience, it was a real burden to customers. It requires certification, carrying heavy tanks, and restrictions on when you can fly home afterwards. Plus it’s expensive.
As the industry clammed up and did nothing but cut prices, one company dared to be different. SNUBA used their creativity to remove the obstacles that were keeping customers away. They developed a radical new approach, and were rewarded handsomely for the effort.
Instead of divers lugging heavy tanks, SNUBA keeps the tank up on the surface in a raft and connects to customers with a 20 foot hose. Divers get a similar experience to scuba (breathing underwater), but SNUBA requires no certification, training, heavy-lifting or flight restrictions. And the activity is a fraction of the cost of the old-school model. The fusion of snorkeling and scuba diving created a fresh new category and allowed this company to blast off. Now considered the safest form of diving, over five million people have enjoyed SNUBA worldwide.
Very few businesses today are enjoying steady growth simply by riding the old model. Financial crisis, global recession, soaring unemployment, intense global competition, and increasing speed have wreaked havoc on nearly every industry. As the world is in the midst of massive upheaval, simply tweaking the old model or finding how to save a couple pennies per unit just won’t carry the day. To win in the new era of business, you need to reinvent. Change the game. Find your own version of SNUBA.
Developing breakthrough ideas is hard work, but “playing it safe” with incremental improvements to an outdated model is actually the riskiest move of all. To begin your bold journey, give a technique called EdgeStorming a try. EdgeStorming is the racy, big-thinking cousin to brainstorming. Similar to brainstorming, you list a challenge and generate lots of ideas without judgment. But with EdgeStorming, the only acceptable ideas are ones that go to the edges. Ideas that go all the way.
To qualify, and idea must be radical, big, and game-changing. Improving a product by 3% doesn’t count. Completely inverting your business model or inventing a new product category … these make the list. You can always ratchet the ideas back later on, but going to the edges will help you break through traditional barriers and unlock your best thinking.
Give it a try, and see if you can invent the next Starbucks, iPod or Swiffer. This week, unleash your imagination and explore the never-been-done-before. And if all goes well, you and your company might just SNUBA your way to tremendous success.