Kim Riley

Invention by Reinvention

Picture this: You’re in a meeting. Someone has an idea. Your team talks it over, and a problem arises. Your blinders go up. This person won’t allow it. That process can’t support it. No, but, can’t.

Nothing stands in the way of new ideas like old systems and outdated thinking. Successful market inventors, no matter the industry, eliminate barriers to creativity by leading with yes: challenging the norm and rethinking the processes that stand in the way of new ideas.

Consider the great market inventors of our time: Netflix, Nest, Salesforce, Pixar. They all rose to the top by challenging something that already exists. They said: “It doesn’t have to be like this,” and applied creativity, insight, art and technology to solve problems and create better experiences. They gave us something we didn’t know we wanted. Until we wanted it, and we needed it.

So when you’re up against the odds, back out of the inevitable and run your idea by a few things we tell our clients everyday:

Make sure the idea benefits your entire ecosystem.

Industry Influencers.

Define your intent.

Don’t say your goal is to generate more revenue. That’s an outcome. (I must attribute this concept to the great Dan Bentz, Merit’s Director of Experience Design). Carefully consider what you intend to achieve with your idea, and make it measurable.

Inventory your resources.

Know who your strongest players are. Rally around group thinking. Put profound user experience at the center of your idea. Be creative. Tell a story, and build affinity for your cause across the organization. Know how your idea maps to existing systems, so if it’s avoidable, you don’t have to constantly create new systems to support your ideas. If the old ones don’t work, put them under a microscope before you dump them.

Do your research.

Be honest with the amount of market intelligence you own, especially regarding your customers. And if you don’t have the research, seek help from a third party, either outside of your organization or outside of your industry. Objectivity is key to market invention.

Hire us.

This is a shameless plug. But market invention is what we do every day. Reach out to us, and let’s talk.


To close, when you find yourself trapped in a conversation of barriers and limitations, play out the alternatives. Think about how your idea maps to existing systems, resources and research, be brave and ask yourself, “Is there a better way?”

About Kim Riley

Kim is the Managing Director of Merit's East coast operation. She's a communicator, a strategist, a realist. Kim builds award-winning insight, creative, and technical inventions by translating customer needs into activations of a brand.

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