Healthcare Innovation: An Authenticity Lesson from Barbie dolls

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Healthcare Innovation: An Authenticity Lesson from Barbie dolls

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“The losers now will be later to win ‘cause the times they are a-changin’.” Bob Dylan could have been singing about healthcare innovation – and girls’ dolls. Beauty queens fade quickly and the late bloomers bloom beautifully.

What I call the Barbie dolls of innovation are organizations sun-tanning lazily while deaf to the crashing waves of change. Consider: Did Mattel see or hear the sensational Liv dolls coming? In a recent interview with Fast Company, Nicole Perez of Toronto-based Spin Master Toys described the strategy for their popular Liv dolls: “The dolls needed to be pretty because they’re dolls and that’s what girls want, but we also wanted to make the dolls approachable and real.” Spin Master launched livworld.com, where girls can register their Liv dolls, play dress-up with virtual clothes, play games, read online diaries, and watch Web videos.

The take-home lesson from the doll wars: Authenticity pays. It’s not possible to ginny up authenticity out of thin air: i.e., you create a brand strategy, a social media presence – and, suddenly, you are an exemplar of sincerity. As Idris Mootee has written: “... Stop Botoxing your companies, start changing the core of the organization and start ‘doing’ what is responsible for shareholders, societies and the environment.”

Tags Innovation

Start date August 3, 2010

End date August 3, 2010


People Neil Seeman


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