Don’t fiddle with it, innovate it!

Sometimes in our quest to grow our business we fiddle with the things that aren’t broken, instead of changing the things that are. Where this gets confusing is knowing the difference between fiddling and innovating. We all know that innovation in a business environment is extremely important and if you don’t have a culture of innovation, you are in danger of being left behind by your competitors.

My recent visit to the Museum of Brands in London has a few classic examples of fiddling and innovation.

Below is a picture of the Johnson’s Baby Powder packaging timeline. Spot the period that they tried to change the shape of the bottle. Was this just fiddling, or was this innovation? The 1970’s is probably around the time that plastic packaging made some major leaps forward and maybe Johnson were experimenting with some new bottle options. Or maybe a ‘new guy’ thought this was his chance to get a promotion and decided to come out with something really innovative and ground breaking and introduced a new bottle shape. Either way, Johnson realised that this bottle wasn’t working and went back to the original shape. Were they fiddling, or were they innovating?



Here is a similar example. Andrews Liver Salt came in a tin. Someone tried to change that with a bit of plastic and surprise surprise – the people didn’t dig it. So they went back to the tin. The guy who designed the bottle was either congratulated for trying something new, or he was swiftly fired for fiddling!


Fiddling with minor things expecting major results is far riskier than innovating new things. Those who innovate are willing to experience failure because they see it as a necessary process in their innovation, and when they get something right, they hope that the reward is big. After all, this is what fuels their desire to innovate. My guess is that those that choose to innovate now, in these tough economic times, will in the long term be at an advantage when the things improve.

2 thoughts on “Don’t fiddle with it, innovate it!

  1. I have heard stories of companies making significant changes to an established product’s packaging only to experience devastating results. The changes were just too drastic and people like what they know. It seems better to rather make small changes over time to established products and make bold innovations with new products. The Johnson’s photo above is a really good example of a drastic change!

  2. Love the post, Shane. Glad I was there to see it first had with you. Hope more instalments are coming in future about brands over time.

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