What is the Paradox? Well the idea in this post is very simple. How basically are products defined? One would obviously say by their success parameters. Yes thats true but what determines this success parameters? Is it a great idea? Or is it the Market?
Well most of us like to believe that great ideas always make markets. While it is true to some extent, it is not always true. It largely depends on the scale of our vision and the market we cater to. Let's look at one of the greatest success stories of the 20th century- Wal-mart ! The legendary Sam Walton was not thinking anything extra ordinary or different- Everyone loves to buy for less- but the major difference was that he believed that in order to penetrate the market , price will be his unique selling point. Was it not the market defining his idea?
Now let's look at the success story of Facebook and iPhone- both these stories had their growth owing to a vacuum which existed in the market. Facebook maximized its scope owing to the absence of a social network in today's fast moving world where people needed to stay connect while iPhone captured everyone's imagination with a device where one can zoom in and out merely by a touch of fingers . The essence then is on spotting the gap in the existing arena and then making path breaking products.
A typical graph which plots market defining index vs ideas index will look something like this. ( Market defining index is the factor to which the market defines the rules for the product whereas ideas index is the degree of innovativeness)
A high market defining index will mean low ideas index and vice versa.(eg. A car which looks like a helicopter may look great but need not sell) The target point for any innovator , marketer or wannabe business tycoon should be the optimum point or the target point, which is the point of intersection of the two curves.
At this point the level of innovativeness in an idea is matched to the market needs and that leads to a winning combination. The main consideration here should be the ratio Market defining index/Ideas Index which should be as low as possible for an idea driven product. In brief, for a winning product a combination of both idea and market defining index is needed.
Food for thought: Will you prefer a market driven or an idea driven product ?