All posts by Tamra Matthews

Tami Matthews is a content marketing manager at ReadyTalk. What’s content marketing? It’s a fancy way to say she writes, edits, and plans content – copy, articles, videos, podcasts, and more -- for our website, social media, white papers, ebooks, etc. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and loves it so much, she does it in her spare time. When she’s not at work, she’s hanging out with her spunky daughter and loving husband, reading, writing, and hiking. She’s kinda into sci-fi and loves to talk Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Firefly, Blake’s 7, Hitchhiker’s Guide, and general geekery with anyone who will listen or engage.

They Said it Couldn’t Be Done…

They said it couldn’t be done, but history proved otherwise.

Need some inspiration on innovation? Here are just a few things “they” said couldn’t be done and other predictions that were wrong.success

  • The Quarterly Review printed that locomotives (trains) would never go faster than stagecoaches. In 1830, although the train came off the track, the locomotive raced against a horse … and showed it was faster.
  • A Boston paper declared there was no need to transmit a human voice over wires and that it couldn’t be done. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented and successfully used his telephone.
  • Not within a thousand years will man ever fly.” And yet the man who said it, Wilbur Wright, conducted the first successful flight at Kitty Hawk.
  • Everyone believed the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, couldn’t be climbed. But in 1953, Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay made the summit.
  • In 1968, Businessweek claimed that the Japanese auto industry wouldn’t have a big demand as there were too many foreign cars on the market. Today, the Japanese auto industry is one of the largest in the world.
  • Fred Smith nearly flunked a college paper where he suggested overnight delivery would be successful. His professor believed the logistics would be impossible. Years later Fred created Federal Express.
  • In 2007, USA Today indicated that the iPhone wouldn’t take off. In 2015, Forbes indicated it is one of the top smartphones rivaled only by Samsung.

Do you have any favorite impossible feats that were accomplished? Let us know!

All Companies Can Innovate Like a Startup

Big companies need to innovate or can face consequences … like bankruptcy

Senior excited businessman has an idea drawing a lightbulb with pen

According to Forbes, 96% of new businesses fail within ten years. One of the top reasons? Lack of innovation. Even successful businesses can go extinct … like Atari, Circuit City and Tower Records.

There are also quite a few businesses that, like the phoenix, arise from the ashes to re-enter as a major player such as Ford. Some companies, like IBM and Apple, flirted with death, but through restructures and change became better and stronger.

So … what do these companies do to stay in existence?

Embrace change

Change happens all the time. We change. Businesses, buyers and market demands change, too.

Sometimes change involves shifting focus, diversifying the portfolio, rebranding or transforming into something vastly different.

Sometimes a company changes almost everything like Xerox. In a digital world, paper printing isn’t needed as much as it once was. Thirty years ago, they were protecting their brand from being synonymous with copying, but now they’re figuring out what’s next. They’re reviewing opportunities that still fit within their brand such as 3D printing, and diversifying with opportunities like consulting services. Of course, these came with new ways of communicating their brand including a new logo.

Sometimes change is smaller. Smaller groups can be more agile and treat change almost as an incubation lab or accelerator. Smaller teams can be more agile to get things done. Even the military uses fewer troops to do complex operations and have for ages; the American Revolution banked on smaller groups of nimble fighters against the British. So it’s no surprise companies like Google have nimble teams to enable quick changes or “attack” big problems.

Collaborate

It’s cliche’ to say: Think outside the box. But that phrase is true. People who don’t realize where the box is are often you’re best innovators and change agents. Change management theories call them early adopters.These people are your cutting edge – the people who know about stuff before anyone else does.

Regardless of how change is introduced, embracing change is crucial to innovation. And every company who wants to think about innovation has to have people who love it. Loving change and innovation isn’t for everyone. Those who thrive on “the new” are often those people you need to attract. Collaboration may seem as mundane to solve problems or to think ahead, but that — in essence — is what makes companies great.

Iterate

With change comes iteration. Follows these important steps:

  1. Try.
  2. Tweak. Try again.
  3. Return to step 2 until you reach success.

Iteration is something IT employees know — software developers live this motto. Information technology usually has quality assurance (QA) employees set up to ensure there’s a bug list and everything is tested and fixed on time.

Whether you’re trying with a prototyping or product launches, it’s good to test and fix … and then test again and fix again.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” That’s tenacity!

And let’s face it, even the most innovative companies fail. Apple introduced a tablet years before the iPad — the Apple Newton. It took almost ten years and a better battery for that to really take off.

So what if you don’t have an actual product? You can still beta test, conduct A/B testing, and get feedback. For example, if you write or consult, someone can provide ideas to help your pitch or change the way you provide services.

Network

And to get feedback, you need people to give you that actual feedback — your network.

Who’s your network? Everyone you know — friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Friends and family can provide great advice and information into how to use something and sometimes can be a great sounding board for trial and error. Alexander Graham Bell probably wouldn’t have invested in communications if not for his wife Mabel Bell. Bell, the inventor of the telephone, tried to find ways to bring sound to the deaf.

Measure

Measuring helps you know when you get to success or whether your changes have improved or innovated anything. There are lots of different ways to measure, but most come down to quality or quantity. Do you want more or better or both?

Put it all together — what do you do?

It seems easy right? Like most things in life, there’s no checklist on how to innovate. Innovation, like invention, is about 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, as the famous saying goes.

Let’s hear about the way you and your business is innovating.