“What if?”—the ability to imagine things as they never were—is a key executive skill. After pinpointing what you’d like to change, make a list of the clichés that keep everyone on the same playing field.
Example: The video gaming industry used to be driven by several clichés. First, there were two audiences: gamers and nongamers. Second, gamers cared mostly about faster chips and realistic graphics. Third, game consoles were pricey. Fourth, people play video games sitting down, moving only their fingers.
Then the Wii came along.
When making your list of clichés, consider these three filters:
1. Product clichés: What features and benefits are typical? What product attributes, such as “convenience,” are advertised? What are the typical customers, geographies and market size?
2. Interaction clichés: What are the cliché steps customers experience when buying products and services?
3. Pricing clichés: What pricing is typical? Are products and services packaged together or individually? Do charges go directly to customers or through a retail partner?
Now, take those clichés and twist them. What can you invert or scale to bring a fresh perspective?
Example: In the car rental industry, the prevailing interaction was: See the customer, gather paperwork, rent by the day. Then Zipcar came along and upended the clichés: Don’t see the customer, don’t ask for paperwork, rent by the hour.
— Adapted from Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business, Luke Williams