The Limits of Innovation
Innovator-As-Hero vs. Innovator-As-Bureaucrat
Excellent article from Carleen Hawn at Fast Company magazine on Apple Founder Steve Job's vision (and lessons learned) on creativity in business.
There's an insightful comparison in the article between Apple's innovations and those of Thomas Edison:
"...most economically valuable forms of innovation often aren't the tangible kind. Instead, they are forms of innovation that we might belittle as less heroic, less glamorous: the innovation of business models. Don't think innovator-as-hero; think innovator-as-bureaucrat. Even Edison--who held 1,093 patents (more than anyone else in U.S. history) and who invented such doodads as electric light, the phonograph, and the motion picture--fared pretty badly when it came to choosing business models. He waged and lost one of the world's first technology-format fights, between alternating and direct currents. And he abandoned the recording business after, among other things, insisting that Edison disks be designed to work only on Edison phonographs. Sound familiar?"
Here's a side bar from the article...
Getting Innovation Right
If Apple teaches us anything, it's that effective innovation is about more than building beautiful cool things. A few thoughts for innovating well in your own shop:
1. Not All Innovation Is Equal
Technical innovation will earn you lots of adoring fans (think Apple). Business-model innovation will earn you lots of money (think Dell).
2. Innovate for Cash, Not Cachet
If your cool new thing doesn't generate enough money to cover costs and make a profit, it isn't innovation. It's art.
3. Don't Hoard Your Goodies
Getting to market on time and at the right price is vital. If that means licensing your idea to an outside manufacturer or marketer, do it.
4. Innovation Doesn't Generate Growth
Management Does If you covet awards for creativity, go to Hollywood. Managers get rewarded for results, which come from customers.
5. Attention Deficit Has No Place Here
Every innovation worth doing deserves your commitment. Don't leap from one new thing to another. If your creation doesn't appear important to you, it won't be important to anyone else.
Click this link to read the entire article.