Where Science Meets Muse

Want to be Disruptively Innovative? Passéjineer™

Posted by Plish on January 28, 2012

You’ve analyzed the market, researched customer needs, and you’ve come up with some great ideas for new products.  Shiny surfaces, high tech interface, and best of all, everything required to develop it is within your core competencies.


Does the customer really need a $400 dollar system to do V,W,X,Y,Z in a market space where competition sells $430 dollar systems that do X,Y,Z?

“But ours is shinier, faster, cooler and does waaaay more!!!”

Maybe, but what if your product was still cool because it does X and Y unbelievably well (but it doesn’t have V, W and Z) , and oh, you can make the same, or greater, percentage margin,  and sell it for $90?

Time to Passéjineer™.

(Origins:  Passé + Engineer  = No longer fashionable or in wide use,  out-of-date, outmoded + To design, arrange, or create, by skillful or artful means)

Passéjineering is the process of understanding customer needs and then using the passé  – older technologies, expired patents, older or simpler design paradigms, simple mechanical/electrical systems – to do the jobs that the customer needs done.

The goal is to strip the product down, redesign the supertech so that it does what is essential; passéjineer it so it does the few indispensible things exquisitely well and for a fraction of the cost. In short, passéjineering is an exercise in the synthesis of new product offerings with simpler/older technology and essential customer needs.

It’s important to remember that ultimately,  it’s the customer’s needs that drive this process.

A perfect example of this is The Laundry Pod.  Someone who is single, living in an apartment and does small batches of laundry doesn’t really need a $500 washing machine.  The Laundry Pod fills a niche wonderfully, without the use of high technology and for less than a quarter of the costs.

Innovations are built on what has come before.  The tendency is usually to use the most recent rung in the ladder.  But, if you are willing to take a step back to those older rungs that haven’t been visited in quite some time, you might find yourself disrupting the market – passéjineering your way to profits.


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