Don’t expect anyone else to get enthusiastic

Sony WalkmanIf your idea is genuinely new, don’t expect anyone else to get enthusiastic about it. Helping others understand the potential and possibilities of your idea is an important innovation skill. A prototype is a sample or a model of your idea. Prototyping helps to bring your idea to life.

I love the story of the Sony Walkman that was launched on June 21, 1979. The concept of a portable tape player was new.  At the time portable tape players were used by journalists to record interviews. The Sony Walkman was just for listening. It had no record button, so there was skepticism about its success.

Sony had to make the concept of going about daily life listening to your personal music system desirable and get the journalists, the biggest skeptics, bought in.

Apparently Sony developed product prototypes and instead of having a conventional product launch to the press, invited the press on a bus tour. They hired actors to walk about in Tokyo posing with the Walkman while the reporters went past on their bus listening to a recorded tour on their Walkman prototypes.

Sony also distributed their new Walkman to young people and celebrities around Japan to generate demand. They also hired young people to walk through parts of Tokyo, offering passersby the opportunity to listen to the excellent audio quality.

The prototype experience bought the value of the Walkman experience to life. A month after the Walkman became available in Japanese stores, it was sold out. The rest is history.

So next time you have a great idea and you want to get others as enthusiastic as you are about its potential. Make a prototype. This will also give others the opportunity to get involved in the development of your idea. And involving people helps get them as excited about the potential and possibilities as you are.

If you want to find out more you can email me to receive your free quick and dirty guide to prototyping.

This article was first written for Innovation (Still) Rules – an innovation and creativity guide for not-for-profit organisations. You can download the full report for free here on the nfpSynergy website.




Do you want to be just the charity of the year?

charity of the yearLast night I went to an event organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing Charity Marketing Group about the Barclays and UNICEF partnership.

When Paulette Cohen from Barclays said ‘We don’t have a charity of the year – that’s not our approach’ It felt like a real breath of fresh air.

Who thought up the Charity of the Year concept? Why would you want to get involved with an organisation for a year? Do you ever embark on any other relationship with a time bound end of just one year?

Good fundraising (and good business) is about developing long-term relationships, lifetime partnerships that together change the world. The concept of a charity of the year puzzles me.

If you have ever prepared for or pitched for a charity of the year partnership you will know that it is a lot of hard work. It’s massively time-consuming, you have to get all the stakeholders involved. Sometimes you pitch just to get to a staff vote, then the final decision is in their hands.

Then there is the waiting. Then the partnership lasts for just a year. This feels like a wasted opportunity for both the charity and the corporate. The whole time you are the charity partner the corporate is planning the transition to the next charity and you are looking for your next short-term corporate relationship.

OK, OK – charity of the year partnerships do have benefits, they can raise huge sums of money, profile and awareness (for both the corporate and the charity). But think carefully about your corporate fundraising strategy before embarking on this time limited offer. Here are some things to think about;

  • Why are you going for this partnership? What is the key benefit?
  • How much is the partnership worth, in money, raising awareness delivering key messages to key audiences or delivering services? How does this contribute to you achieving your mission?
  • Is there a good brand fit between your charity and the company?
  • If it is going to staff vote, is your brand awareness and connection for staff with the cause strong enough to have a good chance of success?
  • Can you deliver what the corporate needs? – How many times have you put something about staff volunteering opportunities in an application because that is what it asked for? Have you ever ended up with lots of keen yet amateur painters painting a building that doesn’t really need painting – but will when they have finished because it wont be done professionally enough (after all they are accountants not professional decorators).
  • Can the corporate deliver what you need? (can their finance team really paint buildings?!)
  • Have you really got the capacity to deliver and support the partnership? Or can you get it?
  • Are you missing opportunities for other partnerships if you put all your resource into this pitch?
  • Is it a win-win partnership?  Are there clear benefits on both sides?
  • Are there opportunities to turn an initial one-year partnership into a more meaningful longer relationship?

And if you are reading this and working for a corporate organisation the same applies – can you make more impact and maximise your business objectives by developing long-term strategic partnerships like Barclays and UNICEF?

If you would like some help in developing long-term charity and corporate partnership propositions then drop me an email. 

The world rewards those with generosity of spirit

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