Innovating in Crowded Industries
I see no advantage in these new clocks. They run no faster than the ones made 100 years ago.
I love the photo below. It’s a depiction of Nikola Tesla experimenting with wireless power transfer in his lab at the turn of the century. As many of you already know, the technology that Powermat uses to wirelessly charge devices is based on the groundbreaking work that Tesla began so many years ago. When I look at this photo, it reminds me that life is an evolutionary process and that we all stand on the shoulders of those who paved the way for us to innovate and upgrade our lives.
The same is true in business. As the old saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun. That’s very true. In my experience though there is always a new twist on things that, if looked at from a different angle, outside the “box” of its origin or intention can be useful in an entirely unexpected way.
In fact, I’ve been asked many times about innovating in a crowded field and how one goes about doing that. Probably because of my penchant for reinventing old technologies to address newer more modern issues people think I have all the answers. I’m not sure I do, but I can tell you that when I spot a need and formulate a solution, either on paper or in my head, I’m not afraid to step outside the box or break the rules a bit to make it happen.
For instance, Wellsense, a first-ever technology that helps take the guesswork out of repositioning non-ambulatory hospital patients and nursing home residents by mapping out areas of pressure on the body and producing a color-coded, live image on a bedside monitor, came about because I learned that there are 12.5 million new occurrences of pressure ulcers each year at an estimated cost of treatment of more than $125,000 per instance. I started to think that there has to be a better way than the current “guesstimation” protocol currently used by nurses to reposition patients. Now, Wellsense is used in major facilities nationwide and we’ve lowered the instance of pressure ulcers in those facilities to practically none.
When you’re looking to innovate in any field, especially a crowded field, the first rule of thumb is to not limit yourself to convention. Forget the potential costs or the limitations of what insiders say is possible or impossible…just dream it. As long as you are guided by fixing a real problem that will benefit real people you are on the right path. The rest will come in time.