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Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Your Next Idea Should Be a ‘Flop’

Your Next Idea Should Be a ‘Flop’

The greatest ideas and latest innovations don’t always come by focusing solely on the goal.  They often come through careful observation of the subtle changes in the surrounding environment and deriving value out of things that others have overlooked.  For instance, no one in the world of competitive high jumping considered that changes to the landing surface could create opportunities for jumpers to soar to new heights.  That is, except for one below-average high school jumper named Fosbury.

There were a lot of innovations taking place in the world of track and field during the 1960’s.  And while most high jumpers were focused on the new technology of lightweight shoes and other materials to help them get up over the bar, Dick Fosbury looked down to find inspiration and ideas.  The prevailing techniques of the day required jumpers to land on their feet because the primary landing surfaces were made of sawdust.  Not very forgiving.  But when a low-tech change was made to the landing pit, Fosbury saw what no one else did: an opportunity to radically change the jumping technique.  This innovative changed immediately improved his jumping ability from 5 feet to 6 feet 7 inches.  And the rest, as they say, is history!

Look at this excerpt from a recent Innovation Excellence article:

In 1968, Fosbury used his new technique to win the NCAA championship and qualify at the Olympic trials. At the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, he won the gold medal and set a new Olympic record at 7 feet 4.25 inches, displaying the potential of the new technique. Despite the initial skeptical reactions from the high jumping community, the Fosbury Flop quickly gained acceptance.

Almost immediately after Fosbury won gold in Mexico City, the Fosbury Flop became the most popular style among high jumpers worldwide. As the world record for the high jump has progressed since then, all record jumps have been made using Fosbury’s innovative style. And today, it’s rare to see any jumper—man or woman, elite or non-elite—use a style other than the Fosbury Flop.

When you’re seeking the next game-changing idea for your company, organization, or product, don’t just look at the obvious.  Take a quick environment scan and see what changes are happening around your market, your target audience, or in technology, and see what you might be able to leverage for your own success.

Who knows…perhaps your next idea may be a ‘Flop’.



1 Comment

  1. I’m a master at flops.

    Seriously, thanks for the reminder to change perspective. In a pursuit of a goal, I often look solely there, however there is great value in changing environment, changing perspective therefore changing how I look at the situation. New eyes so to speak.