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The great disruption

In Harvard Business Review Scott Anthony wrote an interesting piece about innovation (HERE). In this he states :

"Thriving in the Great Disruption requires a particular breed of innovator. Specifically, innovators should look to master three disciplines:

  1. Placing a premium on progress. While more and more companies recognize the name of the game is transformation, the tolerance for blind experimentation has never been lower. Innovators will need to continue to find creative, cheap ways to bring their ideas forward. Fortunately, they can tap into a plethora of powerful tools to facilitate rapid learning.
  2. Mastering paradox. Leaders in most Fortune 500 companies grew up in an era where they could succeed largely by exploiting their existing business. Today's leaders need to master both exploitation and exploration. They need to develop the ability to rely on precise data in their core business and intuition and judgment when they are creating new growth businesses. They have to live the old F. Scott Fitzgerald mantra, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the same mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
  3. Learning to love the low end. In the dark days of October and November, consumers flocked to discounters like Wal-Mart and McDonald's. Increasingly value conscious consumers and hungry low-cost competitors mean that innovators have to learn how to love low-end business. That doesn't necessarily mean that companies have to slash prices. Rather, they have to figure out how to deliver what consumers in low-end segments consider value."
He goes on to assert that in these times companies have to "make innovation a strategic priority or suffer the consequences".

While he clearly identifies both the technology boom and competition in global markets as the accelerants to this need, he does not seem to acknowledge that in most instances the innovator is rarely the winner in the market place. Microsoft did not invent the GUI, Ford did not invent the motor car, Boeing did not invent the aeroplane, Apple did not invent the MP3 player, Flip were not the first simple video camera to market. I think the winners in this shake out will not be the innovators. The winners will be the ones who see the market opportunity in certain innovations (either ripping them off or partnering with the innovators) and bring it to market in a way that resonates with a particular audience. It will not be innovation per se that wins out. It will be the imagination of a future that most others cannot see. Creative thought combined with a real world application of technology will be the philosophers stone.

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