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Innovate or die, big guy

...and why you can't

I'm reading the Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Brilliant work that simply states that what a company did right after innovating, differentiating, and growing are exactly all the right things that will prevent it from pivoting, innovating, differentiating again. It's a dilemma for well run companies: do you continue to do all the right things to be a well-managed, successful company; or do you do the antithesis, innovate and risk destroying what you've built in order to pursue the next move to longer term success?

There is not data to support a business case here. It's a stab in the dark and a gut-check guess. Who wants to do that with a successful, well-managed company? Sears should have pivoted. Kodak missed the signals. Should, coulda, woulda, but didn't. They failed.

And in fact, what shareholders would ever allow this? They want constant growth and steady-as-she-goes.

But there's bound to be emerging markets, and new competitors, and new uses for existing goods and services, and new goods and services that could stem from today's capabilities. Couldn't well-managed companies put some budget, time and effort toward these notions without risking the entire ship? Skunkworks and labs sit outside the everyday culture, distinguishing the ability to innovate from within the company culture. (Innovation is not necessarily technology, it is attitude and culture). So if there is a vision, from the top, that can be sold the shareholders and employees and management team equally, and innovation can be everyone's business, there is a way.

But it's risky...

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