Nike achieved innovation in a simple way: hearing what their customers’ needs. Sounds easy, right? The thing is that sometimes we forget that we have the power to bring solutions to problems that are right in front of our noses.
Matthew Walzer was born two months premature causing a lungs’ under-development that led to Cerebral Palsy and having flexibility in only one of his hands. As the years went by, he learned to do a variety of things by his own. However, when trying his best to become independent as a freshman, he encountered with a small limitation:
“My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day.” — Matthew Walzer, 2012
That’s when Tobie Hatfield, one of the top designers from Nike, was determined to conceptualize something inspired by Walzer. At the end of the day, he was the one who speak up, but undoubtedly there’s a market of potential clients who share the same need depending on their disability.
“Good innovation turns the complex into the simple. Nike Go FlyEase works because the tensioner band and bi-stable hinge hold the shoe in a steady open position.” — Nike, 2021
The FlyEase line has the objective to create shoes that are quick and easy to get into. At the end of the day, it may just be a sneaker with enhanced convenience, for others, it could be the freedom to put on their shoes independently. Nike GO FlyEase was released last month in Japan and soon in USA. However, the company has launched previous models which, with the past of time, they have been improving in order to have a better customer satisfaction.
Nike’s Secrets We Can Replicate
So here I see three concrete ideas we can learn from Nike since they used their resources to create life changing products:
- Learn to hear what the market needs: I know it’s cool to ideate something disruptive to the market and it’s definitely needed. However, there are times in which the specifications and special requirements come from the potential clients’ desirability. Meticulously observe their behavior and pains in order to satisfy them with your product or service.
- Minorities also need solutions: Even though there is a significant percentage of people with disabilities, markets tend to direct their products to bigger markets. My advice would be to hear the not-that-big markets because they still have needs and someone must fulfill them. I think of it as an open opportunity to innovate and explore niches others haven’t looked at yet.
- Identify the opportunities for a new business development: We can focus on trying to have that one stellar product. Sometimes we want to include a variety of features we consider as a must for our product, but be careful, because you can end up overshadowing the primary objective of it. Also, the aspiration to grow must drive your creativity to think big. Start step-by-step and keep in mind that you can even create a line of different products under the same idea. Just as Nike, they started with the sneakers for Matthew and ended up with a whole new line of shoes that are quick and easy to get into.
These type of examples are really heart touching because remind us of the impact our solutions can have in anyone’s life. Innovation has the potential to touch so many lives. Just do it!