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How to Achieve Innovation in a Changing Print World

How to Achieve Innovation in a Changing Print World

There are myriad opportunities for innovation in print, the key is to look for the unexpected

Frans Johansson, CEO of The Medici Group and author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment delivered two keynote presentations at the drupa cube, the conference programme at printing equipment exhibition drupa on 31 May and 2 June. Here, he shares the key themes and ideas covered during these sessions.

Innovation occurs at what I call the intersection – a place where different cultures, domains and disciplines meet, resulting in the creation of something new and ground breaking. Some of the world’s best inventors have adopted this approach.

In fact, printing started from this effect – it’s an intersectional design devised by Johannes Gutenburg that combined the screw press with materials such as paper and cloth. Today, there are many intersectional opportunities within the print industry.

The world is changing at a rapid pace, a phenomenon that makes innovation more important than ever. At the same time, innovation can be difficult to achieve.

We humans rely on expertise and logic in order to succeed, which means we combine concepts and ideas in a manner that seems logical, and all arrive at the same logical outcome.

The unexpected is what allows us to stand apart. By employing an intersectional approach, we can create unexpected and subsequently innovative ideas that have the potential to change the way people think, act and feel.  

So, if the key to success is the unexpected, how can you direct your efforts to be successful? 

The more ideas, the better

Humans are terrible at predicting which ideas will work and which ones won’t, and it’s rare that even the biggest, most well-known companies arrive at a successful idea after their first attempt.

If your first idea isn’t successful, try again. Looking at developing many ideas – it’s the way to innovate.

Those who change the world try far more ideas, and companies that are the most prolific in the testing of ideas are the most innovative. This is because of the uncertainty of innovation today. Consider Nokia, once the world’s most popular telephone company – even it could not predict the next big trend within its industry, and other telecoms brands have since surpassed it.  

Rovio Entertainment achieved success with its Angry Birds game on the 53rd attempt – they trialled 52 ideas before truly arriving at the intersection.

The truth is the world is connected. It wasn’t created that way – it’s people who are making these connections between different cultures and industries.

Similarly, virtually every aspect of the printing industry is connected – consider technology and green printing – there are examples in Sweden where people can print out their favourite publication only if they desire a tangible version of it – or functional printing and 3D printing – when the techniques are combined humans can produce chips that are more accurate than if they were created the traditional way.

Diversity, serendipity, action

When thinking about innovation, it’s important to consider that:

  • Diversity drives innovation
  • Serendipity is the key to success
  • Action beats analysis

There are a number of things you can do to innovate with these in mind. Don’t follow the rules – look for opportunities to change them. Every industry is filled with the potential for intersections, the print industry included. Aim to identify these to create something new.

Be open to new ideas, look to gain insight at all times, and consider your team – ensure it is diverse, as this will allow for different perspectives to come to the fore, resulting in the combination of different ideas.

We tend to reward success and punish failure. Rather than opt for this approach, look to reward output and punish inaction – this will fuel the creation of ideas.

Importantly, don’t base the potential success of an idea on return on investment (ROI). Opt for metrics such as uniqueness, discomfort, excitement and passion and surprise – these are much better indicators of innovation success. 

PHOTO: MESSE DUSSELDORF/ CTILLMAN
Follow Frans Johansson on Twitter for more innovative ideas. 
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