Like many of us, growing up I used to hear the expression ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it‘. It was often said in a jovial manner and typically related to not having to do more than was necessary to get a job done. When you think about it though, it’s the antithesis of innovation.
I’ve always been a big admirer of Dyson, the British engineering company responsible for some of the best innovations of everyday devices I’ve seen in my lifetime. Like Apple did with the iPhone, Dyson completely revolutionised the vacuum cleaner and has since gone on to apply the same design thinking and technology to a number of different products and applications, such as hair and hand dryers, and the humble desk fan. If you dig deep enough into Dyson’s DNA page, amidst all of the great initiatives the company is spearheading, there’s the following statement:
“We believe there is always a better way. So our engineers never stop working on new ideas, hidden in the depths of our research centers in Wiltshire, Malaysia and Singapore. The brief? To solve the problems that others choose to ignore.”
I love it.
I love it for many reasons, but mostly because for all the nonsense written by brands about innovation, Dyson is one of those actually doing it — because it has a culture that embraces it and actively promotes it through every inch of its organisation.
It’s also a statement that flies in the face of not doing something just because it doesn’t need to be done.
The launch of Nike’s FlyEase
Recently, I saw Nike has finally launched its FlyEase trainers, after what feels like almost a decade since they were first announced.
The story goes, that in 2012, Matthew Walzer, a teenager with cerebral palsy, wrote to Nike explaining that he wanted to be able to dress himself fully, unaided — but the majority of trainers used shoelaces, which he was unable to tie on his own. You can (and should) read about the full story here and here.
Nike worked on a project that resulted in FlyEase. A pair of trainers with a revolutionary new system to fit them to the wearers feet, hands free. They’re amazing.
Not only have they suddenly made Nike trainers accessible to thousands of people who previous were unable to buy them knowing, they could not put them on themselves, but they’ve done it in a way that’s remained true to their brand — FlyEase are a marvel to look at, and also look like they’d be great to run in, too. I want a pair. And I imagine many others will want them, too.
And while I find the trainers and hairdryers and desk fans pieces of innovation to marvel, it’s the fact that while most people look at things and take them at face value, a small cohort of people looked closer and thought ‘there’s a better way to do this’.
That’s a culture of innovation.
Featured image: FlyEase / Nike