Chapter 6: Part 2 – Innovation: Rebuilding Mental Models

The transformation of human “mental models” takes time. In the past, when technology did not develop rapidly, this problem was not prominent. We could slowly persuade customers to change their original “mental models” and accept new “mental models”. However, as technology accelerates, the problem becomes more and more obvious: human “mental models” cannot keep up with the speed of technological development.

In fact, some people have felt this problem a long time ago. We mentioned the term disruptive innovation earlier. In fact, this term was first proposed by Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School in the 1990s. He first discovered an “interesting” phenomenon when studying the disk industry: the speed of technological development exceeded the speed of demand development. Based on this important discovery, he explained why disruptive innovation products will defeat continuous innovation products. This theory has changed the way global companies have managed for decades to come. We will discuss in detail later how to use this theory to guide the management of “The Right-Brained Organization”.

What I want to emphasize here is that on the surface it seems that “demand” cannot keep up with technological development. Behind “demand” is “needs”, but “needs” is actually a psychological phenomenon. Our behavior comes from our thinking, our thinking comes from our “mental models”. In other words, it is actually our “mental models” that cannot keep up with technological development. This was the case when 5G technology was first introduced. It can bring us many benefits, but people’s minds think that 4G is enough. On the surface, it seems that demand cannot keep up with technological development, but in essence what is really lagging behind is the “mental model”. Our “mental model” is still trapped in the 4G technology scenario.

Many people attribute the failure of innovation to innovators’ closed-door car building when summarizing the reasons for innovation failure. The products they developed have no demand. I don’t really agree with this statement from my heart. I think there may be an “attribution bias” here in psychology, that is, attributing negative results to personality and ignoring their situational factors. From my personal experience, most innovations are not without demand, but their value recognition is trapped.

I have participated in some technology transfer training programs and have also come into contact with many scientists and engineers. My feeling is that most of them saw demand and pain points when they started innovating and believed that this problem was very important. Could these pain points they discovered be wrong? Possible. Are many people not doing enough user research? Yes. But I also believe that their ideas will not be too outrageous. Because feeling pain is our basic human ability.

On the contrary, innovative products themselves create value but are not accepted by the market phenomenon than everywhere. This is not entirely a technical perfection issue. Even those most successful products, their first version is also imperfect. But why did some innovative products succeed while more failed?

The difference is whether or not the road of “mind” has been opened up. Successful products allow users’ “minds” to have a smooth road to walk on. They can make consumers happily open their wallets and therefore have enough resources to get the business flywheel moving. The losers let their minds walk on a rugged road. Consumers are “decision paralyzed”. Failed innovators did not receive enough income to promote technological innovation and improve products.

The first-generation Apple iPhone walked on a smooth heart road: a full glass large screen, a metal shell printed with Apple’s brand logo, finger operation that can be shown off to friends. If you don’t believe it, you can also go back in time and let Jobs try: “Built-in future popular ARM chips, UNIX-like operating system, next-generation support for app development” these words and see if you can sell your phone?

Obviously innovation brings technological performance improvement if it cannot be identified it is not a suitable road for “mind”. We have to design a new road for “mind”. And as we have been emphasizing “mental models” are mostly intuitive thinking we have to guide it with feelings Let consumers see hear smell taste your innovation!

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