Roger Cowdrey - International Business Consultant. Writer & Motivational Speaker
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Innovation or Exploitation?

Recently I was doing some research for another project and came upon one or two so called innovations of the last few years. To be fair, some of them also appear in lists of the worst innovations, but I wonder if by calling them innovations we are doing real entrepreneurship a disservice.

One of the items I came across in an number of guises was diet assisting water. This came under a number of brand names, but at 3 Euros a litre one would expect something pretty revolutionary.

Of course, it is difficult to see how something that has zero calories in the first place can stop you putting on weight. One or two of the products quoted some inconclusive research about on or two chemicals found in the water, but none of them pointed out that by them flavouring the water they were actually adding calories to a perfectly healthy almost free product!

Of course, the people making money out of this are preying on the obsession with health and the gullibility of the people that want a quick pill in place of reducing calorie intake and taking more exercise!

While talking about this to my wife we reminisced about what had happened to the craze of pet rocks. This was the idea of buying a rock in a book filled with straw for about 4 dollars and then keeping it as a pet. It had the advantages of zero food bills, no mess and no need to walk it. Eventually people realised that they could collect their own from the garden and they steadily disappeared, but not before over 1.5 million had been sold.

With a little research I discovered that the pet rock has reincarnated and now has morphed into a high-tech rock with a USB cable. So it now wastes one of your USB ports while still doing nothing.

Another useless so called innovation was the DVD rewinder. Clearly with digital media such as DVDs and CDs there is no requirement to rewind. But for people that were not tech-savey and were used to winding tapes they got caught. So they bought a device that made the noise of rewinding along with flashing lights while doing absolutely nothing.

Now I know that there are those of you out there that believe that people should not be so gullible. That may be true, but should products that set out to exploit that gullibility really be called innovations or should they be called exploitations?

And does it ever occur to these people to use their undoubted creative talent to deliver something with the use of their brainpower that would be of real benefit to the world? Wouldn't that look better on a CV than I sold water as a slimming aid or I sold rocks for pets or DVD rewinders that didn't rewind?

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