In the early 90s, the market for wristwatches was dominated by Swiss luxury manufacturers (e.g Omega, Rolex, Patek Philippe) and Japanese electronics groups (Casio, Seiko, etc).
Both the manufacturers of traditional mechanical watches and the producers of cheaper digital watches operated within a fixed market: potential sales were a function of 'the number of available wrists'. Very few customers saw the point of owning more than one wristwatch.
Then came Swatch, founded in 1983, a relatively “young” company that did not see this as a limitation. They successfully managed to question and rethink a convention that had limited sales so far for all other manufacturers.
How did Swatch achieve this?
They created a new belief: "watches are like ties." This reinterpretation of the dominant belief gave an entirely new meaning to wristwatches, and with it, new innovation opportunities. Swatch watches became neither status symbols nor mere time displays. Instead they became fashion accessorises that you could match with your outfit. As fashion accessories, it now made sense for the first time to own several different watches and as a result, Swatch grew their total addressable market.
The starting point for Radical Innovation is the ability and the willingness to let go of your own beliefs and overcome conventions. Questioning ‘what everyone else takes for granted’, creates enormous innovation potential.
How can you develop Radical Innovations?
Unfortunately, the innovation ecosystem is very conventional in its approach. Organisations, start-ups, consultancies and agencies almost all use the same methodologies, which are good for solving customer problems, but very poor at producing real innovations.
Using our experience and frustrations as innovation experts and management consultants, we have developed an approach with Hacking Cultural Beliefs, one that enables radical innovations to be systematically generated.
Dr. Sebastian Vetter