room44 innovates

Like a great song, a product can have a development trajectory. Here’s how a product can be nurtured over the 2020 – 2030 decade.


When Leonard Cohen released Hallelujah, probably his most recognisable song, in 1984, he did so after a struggle.

If you’re familiar with Cohen, you’ll know that he isn’t the jolliest of singers, even if his poetry is worth a read. 1984 was all about the end of disco, and the start of the New Wave and electronica. It wasn’t about angst-ridden self-reflection. So Leonard had an uphill battle; his record label didn’t want to release Hallelujah at first, apparently telling him: ‘We know you’re great. We just don’t know if you’re any good.’

Cream rises to the top

With enough heat though, cream rises to the top, and Leonard got Hallelujah out – although it didn’t do particularly well. But, like all ideas that start as a minimal viable product, the development of Hallelujah was built by various artists over the following years. It was sung faster – let’s face it, it couldn’t get slower; it was shortened from the original seventeen verses; it was treated to as many styles as there were covers – and then came Jeff Buckley.

1994 – 2007

Buckley got hold of Hallelujah in 1994 and made it his own. Again, it wasn’t an immediate success – in fact, it didn’t meet its moment until almost a decade after Buckley’s death. The version of the song that finally became a hit was true to the original, but with a new vibe that resonated with a contemporary audience in the early noughties.

And what happened as a result? Leonard Cohen himself came to the party with a couple of extra beats per minute, and sped up his own song when in his seventies.


The point is that Cohen conceived a ‘product’ that was almost good when it launched. Over time, the idea got better – until someone came along and packaged it in a different wrapper and it met its moment. It took over twenty years and speaks to the long-term value of ‘evergreen’ content.

The lifecycle of a product is never easy to predict but, if the product is any good, it will find its market position eventually.

I’m not claiming that Hallelujah was an innovation. That would be like saying Cohen invented music. But I am saying that products that don’t make it at first can, with tenacity, belief and maybe even some pivoting, win out.

10, 20-30

To read about our new long-range innovation tool please click here and we’ll send you a synopsis. It’s called 10, 20-30 and it is designed to maximise your opportunities though-out the next decade.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

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