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Make Copies!

| On 02, Dec 2009

Jack Hipple

Why do we go to movies? Because for less than $10, we can see famous movie stars that we could never afford to pay to come to our house for a private showing. Why do we use copier machines? Because we could never afford the time or money to hand write all the copies we want. The Gutenberg printing press was one of the most significant inventions in history. Why do we buy records or CD’s? Because, as with movie stars, we could never afford to pay for these singers to sing for us individually whenever we wanted. Copies are cheaper.


Why do we benchmark against the industry’s best? Because we hope we will learn something that we can apply to our own situation without having to pay for all the consultants and hard work that was done to get there. We want to “copy” them without having to invest all the time and money they did to learn what they now know.


Making copies is also a significant inventive principle and every once in a while we need reminded of that. Over the past few months, two very clever new products have appeared which solve some long standing every day problems.



  1. The first is the problem of people stealing sandwiches from group refrigerators within a common lunch area. What would make you NOT want to steal a sandwich? Maybe because it’s not the kind of food you like, so you look for someone else’s sandwich more to your liking. But what if the sandwich had mildew on it? You wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole, would you? A very new sandwich bag is now on the market with pre-printed mildew stains on the film! Not expensive to do and commands a hefty price. Check out: http://www.thisnext.com/item/7BBC47F6/4ED4FA3B/anti-theft-lunch-bag  We “copy” the mildew. The mildew performs its function without existing. Note that there are some interesting product improvement opportunities here. What are they?

  2. What’s another minor inconvenience? You’re on a diet and need to measure portions with special cups or spoons and then put the measured portions on a plate. Several new products have come to market in which the portion sizes are painted on the plates or controlled by sectioning. Type in “diet portion control plates” into your browser and see all the products, or take a look at one of your airline or holiday catalogs. Again, the plates now provide the function previously provided by the extra utensils.

In Europe, a painted image of a highway “slow down” hump that’s not really there causes cars to slow down. Where else are two items needed to accomplish something where one could be eliminated and its function provided by “copying” it on to or within another system? What product do you have that could perform the function of something else? The other product gets eliminated, you get to raise your price, and maybe even get a patent. What a deal! Copy something! Eliminate the second thing. Raise your price for the “new” product that does two things instead of one.

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