I want to thank Heath and Fast Company for letting me take part in this BlogJam. I was first turned on to FC during my MBA days in the late 90s by Dr. Gregory Dess, and it has continued to be one of my favorite magazines to read.
One of the things FC always focuses on is innovation, so I want to push back on them some today and ask, is too much innovation a bad thing? Gary Hamel may think it is the most important thing. But look at Steve Jobs at Apple, a perfect example of continuous innovation that usually did not lead to high profits and market domination. Some industries are so innovative that they lose and confuse their customers (like the electronics industry). Some industries are so innovative that no one knows who to believe (like the healthcare industry, or even worse, the supplement industry). Think about this – if you really invented a great workout machine or discovered a supplement that could improve health dramatically, can you really get that information out effectively? It would be tough. People are skeptical of healthcare innovations.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I am a huge fan of innovation, but I think it has become such a focus that sometimes things are labeled “new and improved” that really are neither. And if they are, well, that rock-your-world, cognitive dissonance creating, paradigm shifting innovation often takes a long long time to catch on. So should we really focus on it, or is it better to go in small steps? What is the appropriate role of innovation in a company and an industry?