The HeadScratcher Post Archive
November 2006
The Better MouseTrap

The Headscratcher Post    

          

November  2006               The Headscratcher Post ©  Headscratchers LLC           Edition 19

 

The Better Mousetrap - You know the old saying, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”. 

 

But when is 20% not good enough? Usually if you can deliver the service or product 20% cheaper, or 20% faster, or with 20% more functionality, then you’ve got a really good candidate for the “better mousetrap”.    But every once in awhile, a better mousetrap isn’t enough.

 

33 & 45 RPM Records, 8 Track, Cassette, VHS, CD’s, DVD’s

Take a look at recorded music and video.  Within each generation there were better mousetraps, easier to use, and less expensive.  Then a new device was created that completely eliminated the prior generation.  The slide rule got better, cheaper, nearly indestructible, until the calculator eliminated it in 3˝ years time.   For 100 years, film cameras got incrementally better, cheaper, easier to use, then entered the digital camera.  Now it’s hard to find a film camera in the stores.

 

Gee I wish I had an iPod!  A couple of observations about a new generation.   On average, no one is out there asking for it.  The general population may have been asking for lower cost portable CD players, but few stood up and said, “Gee, I wish I had an iPod!”.  Or “Gee I wish I had a digital camera”.    While customers can give you great insights as to what should go into a better mousetrap, few will give you the guidance for the next generation. 

 

It cost more.   While better mousetraps usually cost less, next generation solutions almost always initially cost more.  

 

Next Generations are coming faster.  Probably the most important observation.  The adoption curve is compressing.   Compare how long vinyl records were around and how long it took before they disappeared in favor of tape and CD’s, vs. how fast you think portable CD players will disappear due to the iPod and other MP3 players.   Mobile DVD players are only a few years old … how long do you think they will last as 2007 brings in all the new video iPod type devices?   The adoption curve is compressing.  Humans continue to adapt, faster and faster, to transitions in new technologies.

 

The Takeaway.  Spend a few hours to review your industry and company.  What would classify as a better mousetrap verses next generation?   Do you have knowledge as to what next generation solutions your competitors might be working on?  Have you embraced fast transitions into your culture and product strategy?  How do you “invest” in the next generation wisely so you’re in the game when it happens, but not broke when you get there?    If you’re a fast follower, how fast a follower must you be to keep up with an ever increasing faster adoption rate?

 

Headscratchers, LLC:  Critical Thinking Techniques for Innovative Solutions

Designed for people who have difficult business problems to solve, Headscratching is a problem solving methodology that results in more innovative and successful solutions.  Simply stated: We help people become better Headscratchers.   We specialize in the application of this process towards Product, Services and Operational challenges and partner with you to solve these business Headscratchers.  Contact us at www.headscratchers.com.

 

Previous editions of Headscratcher Posts at The Headscratcher Post - Archives.    

The Next edition Hypothesis

 

Thanks for reading this edition.   We would like your feedback, so if you care to give it to us, please press “Feedback”.

 

.

 

Click here to get a Free Subscription to The Headscratcher Post. 

A monthly post with tips and techniques about problem solving, creativity, innovation and critical thinking
@2004-2016 HeadScratchers, LLC., All rights Reserved