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.

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