In the post, "Innovation is relative", I agreed with John Kao's point that new technology creates the possibility for innovation. Whether new technology will be a temporary fad or an innovation requires a reason compelling enough that people forget they are afraid of change.
In my opinion, as discussed in a previous post, "Innovation is Turning a Loss into a Positive", it takes a positive reason with a purpose that motivates.
Positive is subjective. So it is simpler to clarify what it isn't. It certainly isn't the avoidance of fear or threats, or the need to change to maintain the status quo. As most managers and parents know, neither of these are very effective motivators.
A positive reason has a purpose which will perceptibly alter lives for the better.
People are not dim. They know that change involves the risk of losing something. Try to minimize those risks - even if it is to lower the perceived value of them - and the defense shields will go up. Receptivity is closed. Therefore the reason must have a purpose so positive it makes the risks simply irrelevant.
Admittedly in today's market, it is difficult to imagine anything more than a marginal, hard to detect reason: for example, a cheaper, more convenient version of the same product. But packaged laundry detergent was not just a more convenient form than hand-grated soap, it gave women the freedom to spend a higher percent of their time for pursuits which could improve their lives.
Time has always been scarce and precious. It still is.
It may seem there aren't many opportunities to improve upon our lives. Maybe that's why the "biggest" new financial product of late is Derivatives, which clearly states by its name that its purpose is to do no more than recycle existing value.
Why are expectations so low?
Enter the Positive Psychology Movement. "The positive psychology movement, founded in part by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, former American Psychology Association (APA) President, focuses on enhancing what's good in life rather than fixing what's wrong."
This is a new area of Psychology. But interestingly, so far, studies show that abundance of choice is not necessarily a precursor of happiness. "A study looking at the effect proliferation of choices has had on people's lives shows that the more choices people have, the more miserable they become."
Perhaps this is why Costa Rica, a country not known for huge shopping malls (and of which I friend of mine recently said 'there are two things to do Costa Rica, go to the beach or go to the forest") , is on the top of the list of the Happiest Nations in a recent Gallup Poll.
"That’s because Costa Ricans, asked to rate their own happiness on a 10-point scale, average 8.5. Denmark is next at 8.3, the United States ranks 20th at 7.4 and Togo and Tanzania bring up the caboose at 2.6."
The implication is that one way to perceptibly add value is to reduce the anxiety of making choices and increase the amount of time spent in pursuits that improve lives.