How to Bring Creativity to Your New Job

Great innovations do one thing – and do it well


Sony Walkman TPS-L2, the first commercially available personal portable cassette player

Want to be an innovator? Don’t just think outside the box – think simple.

We all know that the best innovations are the ones that do ONE thing really well. 

Think about it: 
  • McDonald’s did away with cutlery.
  • Uber doesn’t allow pre-booking.
  • Amazon started with just books.

Simple and straightforward – it’s easy for users to understand what the company does for them. 

If the function of a product is unambiguous, it’s much easier for us to adapt to them. 

We know what problem they solve, and that it solves it very well.

Let’s look at the story of one of the greatest inventions of all time, one that you probably haven’t thought of in a while: the Sony Walkman. 

In the 1970s, wearing headphones to listen to music on the go was uncommon. There was very little interest in a product like Walkman. 

But Sony’s co-founder Akio Morita ignored this. 

His team pressed on to create a miniature stereo cassette player and more. His engineers managed to add a recording function to the Walkman.

But Morita was not having it. He was adamant about the presence of a recording function. It would have added no more than a few more dollars to the final purchase price, but he thought it was an unnecessary addition.

Why was he so against it?

Without a recorder, the Walkman would only have one function – to play cassette tapes. 

The Walkman was made to play music, nothing else. Its users won’t have to think twice about what it’s used for.  

There was only one possible behavior to adopt, so people found it much easier to.

If you want to innovate, focus on just ONE big idea.