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The making of a $24 bottle of water

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

In 1991, Duncan McFie moved to King Island to launch a career as a teacher. The remote island, part of Tasmania, has clear air, sparkling water and little pollution.

McFie, 47, soon learned that King Island rainwater is among the purest in the world because trade winds carry its rain clouds 7,000 miles from South America without passing over any land.

That makes the rainwater uniquely free of pollutants.

As he got to know the islanders, McFie marveled at how they’d collect rainwater from his tank. They raved about its quality.

McFie spotted a business opportunity. By capturing and bottling the rainwater, he figured he could build a company that offered a special product from a special place.

In 1997, he launched King Island Cloud Juice. The goal: to market high-end water on a large scale as the most pristine of its kind in the world.

Eight years later, his company produces about 80,000 bottles a year. And he has established a global market for his product.

Positioning Cloud Juice as the ultimate luxury purchase, McFie sets a high price. The most upscale restaurants and hotels charge $24 a bottle for it.

Follow McFie’s lead when attempting to innovate. Observe what others around you are doing. What do they value—and why?

At the same time, assess underused assets in your midst and look for ways to capitalize on them.

— Adapted from The 4 Lenses of Innovation, Rowan Gibson, John Wiley & Sons.

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