The Future Of Innovation Is Serious Fun

Mr Juha Kaario

A successful innovation tells a story that helps people to see the benefits they will get. Same way, a successful joke manages to create an atmosphere where listener can relate to the situation and is surprised in the end by uplifting or unsuspected twist.

A good joke contains four universal story elements. The first element is an introduction that relates a joke into a setting a listener has prior knowledge. Next the joke introduces key actors, who should be familiar to the listener. The two elements create together the emotional attachment, which creates the core for a successful joke. Next element is a narrative, which merely explains what is happening to the actors and leads towards the last element - a punch line. The punch line always includes an element of surprise, which manifests the category of humour the joke belongs to. For example, the surprise can be based on context deviation, exaggeration or irony. The key in the delivery of the punch line is an unexpected narrative twist in the familiar emotional setting.

Explaining the ideas is like a delivering a joke. An idea becomes an innovation when it is successfully shared and used by others. All too often we fell into love with our original ideas and cannot see alternative paths to success. This is like a joke that only makes one person laugh. An innovation needs to contain storyline that resembles that of a good joke.

Like a joke, innovations have four basic elements. An introduction relates the innovation to the competencies a company and its customers have. This defines also of what opportunities there are to meet the customer competencies to, e.g. is the setting in B2B or B2C markets. Key actors are the technologies or application features that make clear sense to the expected customers. The customers are the ones with competencies to operate in the introduced settings, not a specific segment or user group. In fact, the introduction and key actors define the emotional attachment that should be tested to gain a deeper understanding who the customers might be. The next step is a narrative that defines how innovation is explained to the customers, e.g. the marketing message, user interface or service interaction style. The narrative needs to be clear and easy to understand, but it will not be sufficient if there is no prior emotional attachment. Finally, the innovation needs a punch line that differentiates it from the competition. Like in jokes, the punch line is a surprising twist in the narrative within the premises set in the emotional attachment. It also defines the category of the innovation. Some alternative innovation punch lines are novelty, cost efficiency, natural extension and vertical opportunity.

Innovations do not always have to be funny in a way that jokes are, but it often helps. For example, the demand for green innovations to fight the looming environmental problems is evident, but mostly the sustainable development is driven forward in a serious tone appealing more to reasons rather than feelings. A simple acid test is to think the last time you laughed at a beer commercial and whether you have ever laughed due a recycling advertisement? Even in the serious areas innovations can be fun and uplifting, if one just avoids certain types of dark humour like irony or sarcasm. The best innovation makes people laugh with you, not at you.

Article © 2009 Mr Juha Kaario. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Mr Juha Kaario

Mr Juha Kaario

affiliation:   Nokia

position:  Manager, Business Validation

country:  Finland

area of interest:  Mobile Communications

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