The Disruptive Innovation Behind Pokémon GO

In an explosive combination of creativity, cutting-edge technology, and brilliant marketing, Pokémon GO has become a global craze in less than a week. The new portable game from Nintendo uses a technology called Augmented Reality, which allows a player to interact with the real world instead of just their screen. Game play involves discovering and interactive far away from the basement – in parks, museums, airports, and public squares. The software interacts with actual, physical things to take game playing to a completely different level.

pokemon go

Nintendo shares are up over 90% in one week, creating over $14 billion dollars of shareholder value and vaulting the company into the top 20 corporations in Japan.

What was the thinking that created such a breathtaking performance boost, capturing the hearts and minds of millions? Nintendo employed four key innovation philosophies to create success, and each can be put to use to drive your own company to new heights:

  1. Relentless Focus on Customer Experience– The innovators at Nintendo are obsessed with customer experience. They’ve never tried to win by having the best graphics, sound, animation, or visual design. Instead, they pour every ounce of their resources and creativity into making a wildly better experience for their customers. They focus on delighting each of their user’s five senses and look for new ways to craft memorable experiences.
  1. Level Up– The Nintendo DS was a giant leap forward in handheld gaming when it launched in 2004, providing customers with a two-screen experience. In 2006, Nintendo broke game console records by launching the Wii, the first gaming system that used human motion to control play instead of a handheld controller. With the Go, the tradition of taking human-machine interface to a whole new level continues. The company has the courage to let go of previous successes in favor of bold new ideas, leaping to brand new levels rather than pursuing incremental change.
  1. Embrace New Technology Early– Once the Wii changed the paradigm of how people interacted with games, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation quickly followed with their own kinesthetic controllers. The laggards had to make the same investment, but Nintendo got the big lift since they were the first to the party. While other game makers will now surely leap on the Augmented Reality bandwagon, Nintendo grabbed the pot of gold by getting there first. Simply put, the faster you embrace emerging technology, the more the market will reward you.
  1. Courage to Bet Big– Incremental bets may feel safe to shortsighted managers, but they rarely lead to big leaps in value to customers or shareholders. Throughout the company’s history, Nintendo has exhibited the courage of a lion, making bold moves instead of timid ones. As a result, they have pioneered breakthrough innovation that has turned customers into raving fans and investors into millionaires.

While we may not have the resources of a multi-billion dollar company, these same four principles can yield leap-forward results for each of us. If you’re looking to move the needle in your own organization, follow the lead of Nintendo.

Ready. Set. GO.

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