Olympic Figure Skating and Incremental Innovation

While Disruptive Innovation can feel highly satisfying for everyone involved, more often than not we, at Ideas To Go, are engaged to help with Incremental Innovation…making existing products or services newer and better. While incremental innovation may not feel as life changing as its bigger, flashier cousin, when it’s approached correctly, it can yield fantastic results.

One prime example is from the Winter Olympics (Happy Olympics, everyone!). Four years ago in Sochi, the Olympics debuted “Team Figure Skating” as an event. The idea here is that one female skater, one male skater, one pair, and one ice dancing team will each compete as part of a team—and the team with the highest three combined scores will medal.

This is textbook incremental innovation. Figure Skating took four existing events and combined them into a new figure skating offering. What did they get right?

  1. They started with a Consumer Need: Figure Skating is one of the big draws for the Winter Olympics, and I’m betting that they have tons of research that says, “Please give us MORE FIGURE SKATING.”
  2. They added delightful details to the original formula: Not only do Figure Skating viewers get to see the actual skating, we get to see the WHOLE TEAM sitting on the sidelines cheering for their fellow skater(s). So #extra!
  3. They stuck the landing on the positioning: Everything about the way Team Skate is being promoted—and executed—supports its position of opening act vs. main event. It’s happening right out of the gate, at the beginning of the Olympics (it actually started before the opening ceremonies). It’s ramping up visibility and drama for the individual events, and it’s showcasing the skaters in relationship to other actual humans who aren’t coaches.

Incremental innovation seems easy—but it’s really difficult to pull off. Ideas to Go’s Behavioral Innovation™ approach and Forness® mindset can help you, and your team, avoid a death spiral—and instead land that incremental innovation triple axel!

Dina Pancoast

Dina Pancoast is an Innovation Process consultant at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.