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The Pressure in Your Tires

| On 28, Aug 2010

Jack Hipple

When was the last time you put air in your tires? Do you have a relatively new car that has an automatic warming light to tell you that tire pressure is low? What did you do? Probably pulled into a gas station, maybe put a quarter or two in the slot, and the air pump turned on and you added air to your time. How did you know how much air to add? Did you stop momentarily after eyeballing the tire, get out your tire gauge (you DO have one in the car, don’t you? Or did you run in and buy one from the gas/conveneincve store?), or look at the gauge that may have been attached to the end of the air hose? In case you haven’t figured it out by now, that’s what I did this morming. In any event, you know you should not overinflate the tire and that’s a lot harder to “see” than an underinflated tire.

Next time you visit your local hardware or major discount store, go to the auto parts department and find the new tire caps with automatic pressure readings built into the head. They can even be purchased at various pressure levels (24, 28, 32, etc.) that change from green to red when the pressure is not at or above where it’s supposed to be. Are you thinking about what a good business tire gauges are right now?  Do you have the same feeling that paint roller pan producers felt when the Black and Decker Paint Stick(TM) arrived on the scene?

These two simple examples are concrete illustrations of an irreversible trend in product development—systems and products are absorbed and integrated into their super-systems, irreversibly, over time. If you’re in any kind of business where someone is buying something from you, you need to be constantly asking the questions, “What is my product being used for? What system is it being used in?” “What is its FUNCTION (not what it IS)?”  The history of inventions and the study of over 7 million patents tells us clearly that this Will happen, with or without your help. You can either follow the train or get run over (put out of business) by it. In the cases above, the suppliers of the metals and plastics used in making paint roller kits and tire gauges see theitr sales volume drop and probably wonder why. If they’re only talking to their direct customer and not watching what is going on one step above their customer, they are due for a surprise. There is no product in existence that someone is trying to figure out how NOT to use. You need to be ahead of this thinking and figuring out how you’re going to replace the FUNCTION your product provides. This may be very uncomfortable to deal with as it may mean changing your business, the type of people you hire, the intellectual property you license or develop, and the customers you talk to. NEVER rely on your first direct customer to be the sole driver of your market research because if they are not thinking about how they could be replaced, you are even one more step away from that awareness your self.

How could your product or service and what it does be replaced? Integrated into its super-system? If the answer to the second question is “I don’t know”, then start thinking about it and how it would affect your research budget, the type of people you hire, and who you collaborate with. Now!