Anger Drives Innovation

I’m catching up on my podcasts (mostly because I had to take the train into the city today) and I got to listen to a great IT Conversation with Jeff Bonforte from Yahoo!.

Jeff starts out by telling us that anger is the most untapped emotion in start ups and innovation – and that’s unfortunate because he feels that it’s the most important emotion. How does this apply to libraries? Well I think that in our case the anger is coming from inside – librarians are becoming angry (look at the ILS market) and are trying to push innovation internally.

Jeff thinks that rather than think about the application or features or cool technology aspects – we should be thinking about emotion. He goes on to list 4 types of people:

  1. The Lovers – these are the dorks, nerds and geeks – the technology lovers who see something new and say “ooo cool!” – a reaction that Jeff thinks is the wrong one to base a new innovation on
  2. The Irrational – these are the angry, the insecure, the people who are looking for another alternative no matter what the cost. The example of this is Skype. Skype came along when everyone was out there screaming that they were pissed at their phone companies – so instead of yelling at the support people we’re yelling at our computer screens so people on the other end can hear us.
  3. The Efficient – these are the money crunchers, the people who think rationally in terms of money and time.
  4. The Comfortable – these are the people who will use the old way because it’s the way they know. Jeff gave a great example of an aunt of his who is paying $800 for her trip through a travel agent even though it costs $173 online because it’s the way she’s most comfortable with. These are the people who won’t change until we remove the old way.

I’m not sure where I fall in this spectrum – I’m sure we all have a bit of the comfortable in us – there are some things that we just love to do the way we do them. I’m certainly among the angry (as I’ve made clear here many of times) but I’m also among the lovers. I guess that this is a good thing for me because I can see things from different angles – or maybe I have blinders on when it comes to the things that make me comfortable – or angry.

Another great bit I picked up from Jeff’s talk is how to sell your innovation. Don’t go out and say it’s a “peer to peer blah blah blah”. Sell it the way you want your customers to tell their friends about it. And educate your consumer through experience with the product. I think we see a lot of this with 2.0 tools. The companies are clear on what they’re offering and they give you a way to demo the product.

This was a great (and short) podcast that was fun to listen to – so if you have 20 minutes, I recommend giving it a listen.

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