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Too Much Innovation? Never!

Rob May asks if too much industry innovation can be a bad thing. It’s a reasonable question and I would agree that innovation in some industries hasn’t had the intended effect either for companies or customers. I would quarrel a bit with the Apple example however. Apple has failed to achieve market domination less because of excessive innovation and more as a consequence of some bad business decisions at critical times.

Rob May asks if too much industry innovation can be a bad thing. It’s a reasonable question and I would agree that innovation in some industries hasn’t had the intended effect either for companies or customers. I would quarrel a bit with the Apple example however. Apple has failed to achieve market domination less because of excessive innovation and more as a consequence of some bad business decisions at critical times.

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As someone who works in an “industry” (non-profit associations) in which there is precious little innovation for a whole host of (mostly silly) reasons, I am prepared to accept a flood of it. Bring on the dizzying array of choices I say! Overwhelm me with imagination and insight! Dazzle me with fresh opportunities to create value for myself and others! I’m ready for something new.

I am skeptical of Rob’s blanket assertion that people are skeptical of health care innovations. While that may be true on some counts, I think we have ample evidence that a good many people always are searching carefully for the next breakthrough treatment or cure. They are seeking out innovation often when it is a matter of life and death. Health care innovation is a tremendous source of hope and wealth in this country, not to mention a huge contributor to the astronomical cost of health care for all of us. So, perhaps in this regard, Rob’s original question is right on target.

I don’t presume to speak for Gary Hamel, but my reading of his work says to me that for a company, organization or agency, the output of innovation is only a part of the story. Over time, what is even more important than the offers you make to your customers is that you have built a capacity to consistently make such offers. The goal is to build stronger, more resilient organizations that do not live at the mercy of the economic surround but that can anticipate the future and enjoy sustained success. And on that score, I say you can never have too much innovation!

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