“Daikaiju” is a Japanese word that means “giant monster”. Daikaiju smash many cities, battle for Earth supremacy, and duel with giant robots from time to time. Daikaiju are forces of nature that are almost beyond control.
Sometimes innovative products get built like daikaiju. They achieve a grand scale before getting in the hands of the user. Yet innovation requires a delicate balance. You need to push towards disruption and you need to be able to get a functioning version into the wild.
Innovation’s delicate balance happens in a minefield of paradoxes. Think big, but test small. Build robust, but prototype fast. It is sometimes difficult to find a sweet spot because you could always be creating bigger / smaller.
No matter what medium you innovate in (technology, material goods, or pizza), it is too easy to push to the extremes.
- Push your prototypes too far towards a final product and you risk missing some customer pain points.
- Push your prototypes too small and your customer isn’t able to provide you any useful feedback.
And that is where baby Godzillas come in.
Yes, baby Godzillas. Not grown, adult Godzillas setting giant space slugs aflame in the middle of the Pacific. Definitely not just babies, with their drool and pudgy legs that look sturdy but are not strong enough to hold their own weight.
Baby + Godzilla = Sustaining + Disruptive
Let me explain.
You may want your product to grow up and be the biggest and the best giant lizard there ever was. Yet you can’t wait for it grow up before you unleash it. It wont know how to swat down fighter planes from the fishing line that keep them in the air. You have to unleash it early and make innovative steps towards the grown Godzilla.
A big Godzilla is what your product can be. The big vision with the fully realized business model. A big Godzilla is your product emerging from the waves and striking fear into the Late Majority and the Laggards alike. It is a well-oiled product decked out in features (refined and sophisticated) with a mind set on success.
A baby Godzilla hasn’t completely developed all the features you intend it to. In fact, it may have more bugs than features, more questions than answers, more stinky diapers than flame breath. Yet a baby Godzilla toddling down the street is nothing to be laughed at either. It still causes a distinct reaction from those who encounter it. A baby Godzilla still functions, although in a potentially limited sense.
To some, a baby Godzilla is the best innovation they’ve ever seen.
The market is a delicate ecosystem. It takes prototyping, testing, pivoting, and persevering to get your product ready for success. If you develop a big Godzilla first, there are far too many unknowns and he could trip up before he ever sets foot in the city. Unleashing a baby Godzilla allows you to put something out there, see how everyone reacts, and then look at the potential to grow. Even though it will still have those awkward pre-teen years.
Baby Godzillas are:
- Big enough to get the idea across (“I mean look at it, its clearly a Godzilla.”)
- Big enough to have some functioning features (“He doesn’t have laser blast yet, but did you see him stomp that car?”)
- Small enough to be sustainable for now (“We wouldn’t have any room in the city for a much larger giant lizard.”)
- Still innovative (“Yes I know it is just a baby Godzilla, but do you have one? No, didn’t think so.”)
Take a big, innovative idea and write down what the baby Godzilla version looks like:
- What features does it have?
- How does it stand above and apart from the competition?
- How it is minimally functional?
- Doodle the baby Godzilla!