In Search of the Next Small Idea


In a fast-moving culture, innovation can occur in an instant. From big concepts to small tweaks, innovation drives new products, services, processes, and efficiencies. In this video, John Van Vleck discusses the value of small ideas, as compared to seeking solely big transformational innovations. Sure, big ideas are popular, mainstream and often revolutionary, says John; but a small idea can dramatically increase your audience, sales, scale of business, or create a completely new market for your organization. John shares the true story of a small innovation that transformed a line of business within a large organization. Discover why your next small idea may be the one that changes the trajectory of your organization.

To me, innovation is doing anything that is adding value to the current state of affairs in ways that haven't been done before. So ultimately, that could be an idea, it could be a tweak to something that you're doing currently. But ultimately the goal is that it's doing something slightly differently in a way that is adding value to whatever it is that you're trying to create or solve for. One of the things that I find, there's always the big idea and everybody's in search of the big idea, the transformational idea that's going to change the world. That's great and sometimes you can have that.

The thing that I've noticed though, is that very often it's the little idea, it's the small idea that has the biggest impact. So while we're always searching for that big thing, often it's the little things sitting right there before us, that is the thing that will turn events for you. I just look at innovation, it's just innovation. Sometimes the scale is great, sometimes the scale is small. But I think very often we're looking for the silver bullet when we should be looking for that little thing that's going to take us forward that may have great impact.

There's a brand of Coca-Cola called Georgia Coffee and they were noticing that among women in Japan declining sales, and the brand wasn't doing as well among the segment of the population. All the research data was telling you that and no one quite knew why. But when they started exploring the question and they started spending time with their targets, these women, they noticed that little pull tab was very hard, and they were taking a little object to snap it open. The reason was, they didn't want to break a nail.

So that little thing, that little tweak, that little element in the can that we forget about and pass over so many days, actually just modifying it slightly could have a huge impact on the business. And once they figured that out, they were able to set things in motion and make it easier, and again, the business began to turn around.


John Van Vleck

What's missing in business? Humanity. Feel. Edge that leads to something new and unique. John Van Vleck is the founder of The Green Room Collective, working with organizations to help bring these values to organizational culture, team b...

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