A good Q&A with Larry Keeley in a BusinessWeek article about Chrysler, the automotive industry, and innovation. Keeley is co-founder and president of Doblin, an innovation strategy firm. Keeley was recently named by BW as one of seven “Innovation Gurus” that are changing the field.
“Innovations have to happen inside the car, in changes that improve our busy lives, make them more manageable, more comfortable,” Keeley said.
This rings true to me. For example, my Toyota FJ Cruiser has an audio-in jack in the dashboard, enabling me to easily play my iPod through the sound system. This makes my drive more manageable and more comfortable. In contrast, most cars I rent when traveling don’t have an audio-in jack. With the ubiquity of the iPod, why don’t the automobile companies include this as a standard feature on all new cars?
More from Keeley in the article:
“How many times do you see ads and commercials touting a car’s horsepower. Do you know your car’s horsepower? Do you care? No – nobody knows unless they’ve lived in Detroit or worked in the auto industry. We spend most of our lives stuck in traffic jams going nowhere near the maximum speed of our vehicle. The innovations have to happen inside the car, in changes that improve our busy lives, make them more manageable, more comfortable. That’s where the frontier is.
These guys [the automotive industry] are trying to focus on the same old market segments. It is just so tired. Every single company at every brand offers every single variant. I can get an SUV from Porsche, from BMW , from Cadillac, from Mercury, from Ford, from Chevy, from Buick, I mean come on, guys. That only makes sense if you look at the industry from the vantage of a manufacturer. It only works if you think about the world in terms of factory efficiency. The industry knows nothing about the frontier needs of the consumers.
If I wanted to create a big winner for Chrysler, I would help them to devise an approach that is so different from the way the rest of the mainstream industry is behaving. Every industry and every company needs to learn from the periphery rather than the core. Change always happens at the periphery.”