My first blog post for HBR.org went live in February 2008, when the platform was still in its infancy. Here’s what I’ve learned about market demand in three-and-a-half years and (now) 200 posts. While I thought that a reflective post might be a little self-indulgent, I think these lessons transfer to other domains, so I wanted to share them with my readers.
1. Distilling ideas down to straightforward lists can help bring clarity to murky situations. At the end of 2010 the combination of an unusual presentation and work on The Little Black Book of Innovation inspired a post that was a long list of one-sentence answers to common innovation questions. When the post appeared on December 27, I figured it would land in a holiday wasteland. But strong readership in December carried into January, and turned “31 Innovation Questions” into my most popular post.
2. Practicality rules. My second most popular post was a 2010 post on the “4 Ps of Innovation.” The post argued that innovators should avoid numbing discussion with leadership about made-up assumptions on overly detailed spreadsheets. Rather, companies should first determine how big an idea has to be to matter. Then they should see if a plausible combination of an idea’s target population, price, purchase frequency, and penetration rate crosses that threshold. That post has generated a meaningful number of readers every month since its publication.
Scott D. Anthony is managing director of Innosight Asia-Pacific.