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Change the rules, then test them

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in Leaders & Managers

Leaders in innovation change the rules of the game, says Karl Ronn, a vice president at Procter & Gamble. His company’s change in mind-set led its product developers to try switching from chemistry-based to physics-based cleaning products. So far, P&G has used this new stance to hit one home run: the Swiffer.

Once you’ve changed the rules, use these three important benchmarks to test your innovations:
  1. Consistency. Even though you’re fomenting change, your new products have to make sense within your brand.

    “We throw everything against that brand architecture,” says Quiznos Sub’s top marketing officer Trey Hall. “If it doesn’t stick, we don’t do it.”

  2. Unexpectedness. Like the wizards of Wall Street, you should be “zigging when others are zagging,” Hall says.

    A good sign: Both employees and customers exclaim “Why didn’t anybody think of this before?”

  3. Results. Through research and testing, leaders make sure the products they develop are relevant, something customers actually want. Quiznos’ “sponge monkey” ad campaign generated huge publicity but no extra cash.

    “If your sales don’t go up, it’s a failure,” says Hall. “Even if it’s really cool, even if it’s on VH-1, it doesn’t matter.”
— Adapted from “David or Goliath—Who Markets Better?” Julia Hanna, HBS Working Knowledge,

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