Innovation's Missing Ingredient

March 4, 2013
Count how many times you hear the word “innovation” bantered about over the next couple of days. Trust me; it’s a lot.

Count how many times you hear the word “innovation” bantered about over the next couple of days.

Trust me; it’s a lot.

Management gurus, consultants, the business press, politicians, educators, and so many others are hell bent on getting as many as people as possible to buy into the idea that innovation is the answer.

At one level, such passion makes a lot of sense.

For capitalism to flourish, growth is needed.

Growth is fueled by new processes, products, and services, which challenge the status quo.

Theoretically, this is all good: the economy expands and innovative companies thrive. Competition forces the laggards to catch-up or they go out of business.

And the cycle starts anew…

However, in reality, something must be amiss, when more than 75% of new ideas and inventions fail to gain traction in the marketplace.

It seems that with so much attention focused squarely on creation, a critical component of the innovation formula is lost.

That is, who is this innovation for?

In my experience, companies far too often assume that their new found creations will almost metaphysically end-up in the hands of the right customers; customers who will appreciate and value the innovation almost as much as they do.

But what if those customers don’t really care, except for the price demands they can exert over the new product or service.

In other words, how many innovations out there are being sold to existing customers who only want to control the innovation, capture its value, and, therefore, render it a commodity?

Way too many.

About the Author

Andrew R. Thomas Blog | Associate Professor of Marketing and International Business

Andrew R. Thomas, Ph.D., is associate professor of marketing and international business at the University of Akron; and, a member of the core faculty at the International School of Management in Paris, France.

He is a bestselling business author/editor, whose 23 books include, most recently, American Shale Energy and the Global Economy: Business and Geopolitical Implications of the Fracking Revolution, The Customer Trap: How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake in Business, Global Supply Chain Security, The Final Journey of the Saturn V, and Soft Landing: Airline Industry Strategy, Service and Safety.

His book The Distribution Trap was awarded the Berry-American Marketing Association Prize for the Best Marketing Book of 2010. Another work, Direct Marketing in Action, was a finalist for the same award in 2008.

Andrew is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Security and a regularly featured analyst for media outlets around the world.

He has traveled to and conducted business in 120 countries on all seven continents.

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