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How to Turn Old Ideas into New Innovations

How to Turn Old Ideas into New Innovations

The iPod irrevocably changed the way people listen to music. The design, the functionality, and the wheel influenced the way consumers interact with their favorite artists. Today, the iPod is hailed as one of the most important innovations of the past 25 years. Yet, the iPod offered consumers nothing inherently new.

By the time the iPod arrived on the scene in 2001, mp3 players were old technology. In today’s tech terms, they were ancient. The first portable mp3 players showed up on the market in 1998, and there were 50 different portable mp3 players available for purchase before the iPod came into the market. Basically, Apple added a wheel, but it did not reinvent it. Rather, it innovated an old idea and turned it into something that everyone would come to love. What is more, Apple did not stop. It kept going.

Apple entered an established market and re-invented it. Today’s most successful entrepreneurs will take lessons from what was once America’s most valuable company by learning how to turn old ideas into sparkling new innovations.

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Here’s how:

Skip the Foundation

Marketing has consumers under the assumption that every new innovation is unique from inception. It is not true. Innovation builds on an existing concept or product and then re-imagines it out in the world. In fact, most innovation that has changed the way we work and live today is just a new combination of or iteration of old ideas.

Take something basic that almost everyone has in their home, like kettles. The electric kettle was based on the old stovetop kettle. Add electricity, and now you can boil more water in less time. However, that was not the end of the road for the electric kettle. Years later, someone developed a prototype based on that electric kettle that allowed tea fanatics to set the temperature they desired. They even created a function to keep the water at that precise temperature for specific period of time. Nowadays, there are new gadgets allowing you to brew tea in your kettle at the right temperature and time. Suddenly, a basic and utilitarian adaptation of an old concept like the kettle became a new, exciting product selling for hundreds of dollars in high-end department stores and specialty shops.

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What does this mean for entrepreneurs? It means that innovation means building on an existing foundation and innovating to find a better product. Whether you add new capabilities, include new technologies (an internet-connected kettle, anyone?), or even re-vamp the design into something more beautiful, innovation simply requires adding a single new idea that makes the old idea more meaningful.

Make It Useful

The world is currently on the precipice of several game-changing breakthroughs. One of the biggest breakthroughs in the next ten to twenty years will be in artificial intelligence.

While history will remember the pioneers behind AI, the truth is the average person will not. In fact, the developers of AI, just like the developers of the internet, will be written into history as a specialist interest, not as the global, game-changing pioneers of the future that they really are. Why? Because innovation is simply not about brand new ideas, it is about making them useful for the average person.

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The people who develop programs, applications and products that allow the general public to use AI in ways that are meaningful to their everyday lives, are the ones whose names you will know in 20 years. Although AI will change the world, these entrepreneurs are the ones who will make it change your world. That is why they will be remembered. It is also why they will be able to build lasting brands and achieve financial success.

Take this into consideration when you are looking to develop a new idea. Instead of playing the role of Nikola Tesla, play the role of Elon Musk. Worry less about inventing electricity. Worry more about using that technology to power your car. Look out for ways to apply new technologies, or even old technologies, in new and innovative ways that will impact lives.

Innovation is key for developing the next big product, but do not put too much pressure on yourself to be Tim Berners-Lee – he invented the world wide web. Instead, aim to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, whose name requires no further explanation.

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The wheel is already there, do not reinvent it. Re-imagine it.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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