Yesterday I got an interesting package in the mail. When I opened it, it was a book entitled "Never put confusion on top of a crisis", and the author was a James Gardner. Immediately, I thought someone had sent it to me thinking I would like a book by someone with the same name as me. As you do, I turned immediately to the bank cover to read the About the Author part:
"James Gardner has achieved industry wide recognition for transforming the way his bank engaged with its customers…. With simple changes focussing on rich user experiences and improving front and bank office productivity, Gardner led the dramatic change across his organisation. Today, the bank is still continuing to deliver strong revenue and cost savings across it service delivery, sales, compliance and IT functions – without compromising the customer experience"
Now, until this moment I hadn't realised there was another James Gardner in banking, and then on the inside cover, where it talked more about the content of the book, it mentioned my bank by name.
The penny dropped when I opened the book and found only blank pages. The book, it turns out, was a marketing gift from Adobe Systems, who were advertising their enterprise document management solutions.
Now this is a very, very clever piece of marketing. The book looks exactly like a real one, except it is targeted to me and my institution. Everyone I showed it to was sooooo impressed that I'd published a book, and spent a few moments examining it before they, too, realised it was a marketing item.
And then, even with this realisation in hand, their first question was "how can I get one too?"
Imagine that – a piece of marketing collateral that has inherent value to the recipient, as well as to the company that wants to deliver a message.
I often say that real innovators know that boring, incremental work pays the bills. But then, every so often, you see a small idea coupled with excellent execution that makes you realise that even small ideas can be very significant. The amount of time I spent examining this book – which has a table of contents outlining every significant feature of their solution – was orders of magnitude higher than I would have done on a simple brochure. In fact, the brochure would have been put in the bin immediately.
This book, however, will stay on my desk, probably indefinitely.
Here is a demonstration of the real power of innovation: it generates something unique that causes potential customers to change their behaviour.
The holy grail of innovation teams, of course, is to find a way of doing so reliably and predictably.