The Nature of Innovation
Nature may be the best innovator. As Darwin suggested, adaptation to needs (survival) encourages solutions which over time succeed in achieving the goal. These adaptations appear in slow form, with nature favoring one trait over another, or appear in sudden changes such as a genetic mutation of superior survival skill.
Product innovation follows a similar path, although not always with the survival goal. More often, at XIKAR for example, innovation answers a consumer need or problem that has common appeal.
For example, Scott and I invented our Xi cutter, which celebrates its 20th anniversary early next year, in answer to my need for a superior cutter function (like scissors) with an ergonomic and artful form. "Nature" or the marketplace, favored our invention to the degree that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office recently awarded it iconic status through a Trademark on the cutter shape. We are very proud of the recognition, and delighted with the perpetual protection it provides!
Not all our innovations will achieve this. Some provide solutions over time though evolution of existing products or synthesis of ideas from disparate sources. Our recent launch of the Volta and Forte lighters demonstrate the first, while the PuroTemp, our remote readout hygrometer, illustrates synthesis.
Whatever the scale of the idea, it begins with a source - you and your "problems" or needs. We know these needs only if you tell us, through our solicitation in person, in newsletters or in surveys. We value that feedback like gold - because real solutions start with real needs. Of course, we also smoke cigars daily, and realize some of those needs on our own. We definitely produce, test and market the best of those. And we are hungry for more! If you've got a need, or perhaps even a solution that has common appeal, let us know - you might have your name on a patent that one day becomes an icon!!
Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc