Skillsoft Blog

Swiss Army Innovation

We’re pleased to bring you a guest post by Josh Linker, author of Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity.

By Josh Linkner

QuickTalks:  Josh Linkner: Creativity is Learned


We may understand the need for creativity, but not see ourselves as creative. However, Harvard University and others have found that creativity is 85 percent learned behavior. We are taught there is only one right answer, etc. but we can learn to be creative.

That ubiquitous red contraption contains just about every feature you can imagine.  A nail clipper, ice pick and Philips screwdriver.  None of the individual tools are especially remarkable – you could buy a corkscrew that is higher quality and more beautifully designed – but all of these mediocre features are crammed into one product.

Is that what your company does?

Spending nearly every waking moment with entrepreneurs, a common mistake is to try to drive progress by adding product features.  The website isn’t attracting enough users? Throw in an extra function to the site.  The mobile application is missing revenue targets?  It must need some new bell or whistle.

I call this the Swiss Army Knife trap.  It’s the erroneous conclusion that adding more will create more, while the truth is that the best companies focus their energy on simplicity.

Apple is legendary for removing buttons and features to offer customers beautiful, simple, clean design.  A key reason Facebook crushed MySpace was their ability to offer an elegant, uncluttered user experience.  The best companies focus on having fewer product features, choosing ones that deliver something truly special.

Instead of adding yet another function or service to your mix, try the opposite approach.  Great sculptors throughout history believe that their work of art already exists within that giant block of granite. Their job is to remove the unnecessary rock to reveal their masterpiece.  Think about your own product or service.  What can you remove, streamline, or simplify to reveal an uncluttered work of beauty?  Create an offering that’s easy to understand and solves real customer problems in a remarkable way.

You’re far better off doing one thing really, really well than trying to toss in every feature imaginable.  Direct your creative energy toward being the best at something and making it so compelling that it can’t be ignored.  Too many ingredients in the soup makes it taste horrible… the same applies to your business.

It’s time to resist the diabolical temptation to add a toothpick, leather punch, or tweezers.  Stop worrying about adding new menu items and make sure you are delivering incredible value with your core offering. Your customers, investors, team members and accountant will all thank you.

Learn more
If you have a subscription to Books 24×7® or the Leadership Development Channel, search for “Josh Linkner” – check out Josh’s book and other videos the next time you access your online learning portal. 

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

(URLs automatically linked.)

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)