Real Innovation or Clever Marketing?

Greetings. The recent ad campaign for the new Adidas “Spring Blade” running shoe made it seem remarkable. In fact, I started to imagine that this might be the greatest innovation in the history and science of running since the actual invention of the shoe or the development of smooth pavement. A marvel of modern technology that could instantly transform me into an Olympic-caliber athlete the moment I laced them up. Be still my pounding heart!

And all because the folks at this leading athletic apparel company decided to rethink the way that running shoes might work by forming a sole with sixteen super high tech polymer blades (or springs) designed to create explosive energy that would literally launch runners (or in my case joggers) forward while requiring less effort. Blades “tuned” to provide perfect support in each phase of a runner’s stride.

The only real question is whether this is brilliant innovation or simply brilliant marketing. And if you have $180 to spend you can see for yourself on August 1st when they arrive at your favorite running store or online retailer. And please let me know what you think…because in the mind of this middle-aged athlete and technology enthusiast hope springs eternal!

Springblade 1

We win in business and in life when we capture the imagination of those we have the privilege to serve. And when we enable them to reach new heights of performance and success.


When Less is More

Greetings and welcome back.  Many of you have just returned to work after the Easter and Passover holidays which often coincide with Spring break from school. Back from recharging your physical and spiritual batteries just in time for the final push before summer.  And, as the weather improves, it's easy to get distracted from homework, exams and the challenges of guiding our organizations–by the longer days, warmer temperatures and exciting array of things to do outside.

And maybe that's okay.  Because some of these healthy distractions might also provide insight on the keys to business success.

An example is one of the hottest trends in running.  An idea that comes from the very first runners on the planet.  Yes, it's "barefoot" or "almost barefoot" running. Because folks have been running barefoot since they first discovered the ability to run.  And high-priced and colorful running shoes are simply the latest tools of the trade.  And another opportunity for companies to innovate by selling a reinvented experience from the past.  

Which leads us to our friends at New Balance who created some serious buzz and possibly a few blisters with their line of  "Minimus" running shoes.  Shoes that come as close to running barefoot as possible…with their "zero millimeter heel-to-toe drop" and "materials designed to provide more independent foot movement and improved ground feel for the dedicated minimalist runner."  Which must make me a "maximalist" runner because I'm not that keen on feeling the ground beneath my feet.  Give me a running shoe that makes it seem like I'm floating above the ground and I'll gladly fork over $150.

But the notion of minimal running shoes does suggest the real power of getting to the essential minimum in everything we offer our customers.  Especially at a time when their budgets are constrained and they are working hard to accomplish more with less.  Of giving them an offering that delivers all of the stuff they really need without any of the extra support, material or features they don't need–extras that are nice but not essential to achieving their objectives.  And then letting them decide how to enhance the basic experience.


We win in business and in life when we get to the heart of what really matters to customers.  And when we imagine the power of minimizing the value we deliver.