Here’s another video:
Here’s the brief summary:
Today I wore to work a shirt that I bought in 1994. I’ve worn it a whole lot in the time since I bought it. It was made by Timberland, and it’s a well-made shirt that is still in pretty good shape. Since I bought it, Timberland has become more interested in making shirts that give the appearance of ruggedness rather than providing actual ruggedness. So there are no 16 year shirts for sale from Timberland now.
The shirt contrasts with two pretty cool gadgets I’ve got on my key ring – one is a little pocket knife that folds up and looks like a key, the other is a usb stick that looks like a key. Both are pretty flashy, and it is very convenient to have with me all the time with my keys. However, both have fatal flaws – every time I use the bottle opener on the knife, I cut my fingers, and the usb stick comes with a cap that covers the contacts, which just will not stay on the stick. Now the cap is lost, and if I don’t do something, the contacts will get scraped, and the stick will become unusable.
The shirts and boots that Timberland is making now, and the knife and the usb stick are all examples of poor strategy for the 21st century. They look flashy and they seem innovative, but they’re not built to meet real needs, and they’re not built to last.
I think that we have to focus our innovation efforts on ideas that are more durable. We have to come up with products and services that are sustainable. We have to make shirts that will last 20 years – I know we have the technology for it! We have to make usb sticks that are convenient, but which don’t come with built-in features that will trash them in a short period of time.
In other words, we have to make sure that our innovations take time into account. Whether we know it or not, all innovations have a life span – the way to make them live a long time is to make sure they meet real needs sustainably.