Product innovation secrets that create exponential impact

In January of this year, I started a podcast series with the sole purpose to share compelling stories of the value we can unlock when technology augments the unique strengths of people to help them to create remarkable impact.

As quoted in the book “Machines | Platforms | Crowd’ “The success of a venture almost never turns on how much technology it can access, but how its people use that technology, and on what values they imbue in the organization“.

Now that the first 15 podcasts have been released I reflected on them to see if there are any patterns worth sharing. What I found was that, by diving deeper into the individual innovations, you could uncover two specific angles with regards to how exponential impact is created. For the sake of having a better term, I’d describe them as ‘One-to-Masses’ and ‘Masses-to-One’.

Now, why is this important?

Well, as quoted again by the authors of the book Machines | Platforms | Crowd: “We have more freedom to do things that simply could not have been one in earlier generations. Rather than being locked into any one future, we have greater ability to shape the future”

And the patterns that I spotted by analyzing the interviews highlight an interesting framework to unlock new forms of value creation. It can actually help in creating entirely new markets (rather than disrupting old ones). And, as you can imagine, this is what inspires me. So, let’s dive into the details.

This blog specifically focuses on the different aspects of creating exponential impact through the lens of ‘Masses to One’.

Masses-to-One Exponential impact

What I mean here is examples how technology helps to augment individual people with insights we never had. With technology individuals can now benefit from the knowledge of 1000s of sources – 1000s of interviews, tests, events, you name it, to deliver remarkable value within the scope of his/her job or even task. A big part of the trick is to find lakes of data and information we have at hand but ignore to use. Often the answers are right in front of us, we just need to look at the situation in a different way, with a different mindset.

And doing so can drive exponential value in a range of ways. I’ll touch upon the first three impacts on this blog.

1) An exponential increase in speed:

Product Innovation

We all know the good old Microsoft slogan “Information at your fingertips”. A vision they laid out already in 1995. And even today this is still an area of innovation. In more and more cases these days having the right information available in a split second is what’s required – it can actually be life-saving. My interview with Andreas Cleve, CEO of Corti showcased an excellent example how AI is augmenting medical experts with split-second advice and insights from 1000s of other situations – allowing them to spot the real issue of a 112/911 call, in order to save that live, at that exact moment. As Andreas quoted: “We’ll do what computers do best. That’s computing a large set of data that it never forgets and try to look for angles that might seem obscure to the single human being that might only have heard or seen or participated in a finite amount of conversations. Whereas, a computer can store and analyze millions. To do that smart we used machinery since it’s a good technology for trying to look for stuff that isn’t apparent”

2) An exponential increase in accuracy:

A very nice by-product of the use of AI to augment people is that it allows them to not only make ‘split-second’ decisions but decisions that are also much more accurate. Normally it’s the opposite as speed and accuracy often don’t go well together. My interview with John Heintz, CEO of Aptage, highlighted a solid example that proofs speed and accuracy can go hand in hand. The Aptage solution augments Project Managers in their day to day job to ensure a project will succeed as planned. This means it not only highlights potential issues earlier than a human could normally spot, it also provides an indication of the effect ‘when doing nothing’. So, it’s not so much the speed by which the insight is offered, but much more the accuracy that’s gained to keep a project under control. And that’s where a massive value for any project intensive organization can be achieved. John Heintz: “There’s just simply no hope for the rest of us to apply risk and probabilistic thinking with only gut feel. That’s where we fall prey to hope based planning. If we can measure that uncertainty with risk, with AI, with learning algorithms, then the human mind in this equation can make better, easier decisions that are informed by the probabilistic thinking that the engine is really good at.”

3) An exponential increase in span-of-control:

If experience and knowledge can be scaled across an organization, more people can start to contribute to value creation. More people can act as experts, which allows organizations to do more with less, while still exceed expectations of their clients. This is a massive opportunity for all of us since the skills gap is growing exponentially due to a) a shrinking global working population and b) the pace by which our norms of what ‘good looks like’ change. My interview with Adam Martel, CEO or Gravity showcased a fascinating example in this category. Their solution uses AI to augment Frontline Fundraisers to drive more value from donors by pinpointing the right donor, at the right moment, with the right message. This has the power to fundamentally change the way fundraising works in the Not for Profit sector. Adam Martel: “We found that because we were using the CRM as the primary tool for fundraising, it was limiting the number of donors that I could get to. WiFi, SalesForce, the Lucian Community brand, they’re all selling CRM. They’re all selling the cup that holds the water, but nobody’s doing anything with the water itself. What we wanted it to be was the outlet of all of this data. We want to be using some of it like we use fuel. We need to start burning this data so we can get to the point where we’re generating something that’s useful. ….[Now] we’re predicting the right donor at the right time. We’re increasing activity for the front‑line fundraisers. What that’s proven with all the customers is that if you get to the right donors at the right time and you help your best of relationship builders build more relationships, that they’re going to generate more revenue.”

All these examples showcase key ingredients that contribute to enabling individual knowledge workers to deliver remarkable value on the job, far beyond what we all would believe possible up to now.


What unites these examples (amongst others) is the approach by which to challenge problems:

  • By looking for an abundance of information that’s unleveraged
  • By addressing the outcomes rather than outputs/inputs
  • By focusing on a unique challenge of one single individual.

This raises the question: What opportunity are you leaving unaddressed with your solution? Is your solution one like many of the systems on the market that’s sold as ‘the cup that holds the water’ as phrased nicely by Adam Martel? What if you’d apply one or more of the approaches highlighted above to challenge the outcome of your solution? How would your customer benefit? What new demand would you be able to unlock? What new market space would you be able to create?

If this inspires you to challenge the status quo and shake things up, but need an external view to maximize the opportunity, here’s how I can help.



About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.