Doug Garnett’s Blog


When the Innovative Choice is Not to Innovate

When the Innovative Choice is Not to Innovate

Innovation is critical to a company’s future – it’s the only way to ensure future demand.

And, yet, in the US we have an obsessive culture about innovation – which often seeks to destroy everything old just because it’s “not new”.

We seem to have arrived here because individual riches of certain tech overlords show that one key innovation can produce billions most can only dream of.

We have arrived here through worship of science fiction which postulates a future where everything has changed. (A good friend of mine writes sci-fi and his books feel far more honest because people in his future still listen to the blues.)

We have arrived here through obsession with ideas like disruption and creative destruction.

We have companies filled with people whose sole goal is to destroy the past.

And, yet, none of this is what “innovation” is about. Innovation involves making the wise choice for your company to succeed – often choices which go against what “everyone else” says the future will be.

The only way to outperform the competition is to choose not to be like them. In other words, to make surprising choices.

And that leads me to this excellent article about the new Kindle Paperwhite. Consider:

The Paperwhite is, apparently, the most successful Kindle in terms of sales. Yet this is the Kindle without the bells and whistles of color, attempting to be a web browser, etc…

This new release protects all the good things in the old Kindle – those things that work.

This new Kindle continues to offer a highly readable screen dedicated to hours of reading – not quickly grabbed minutes of reading.

The new Kindle feels a lot like the old Kindle.

In other words:  Quite often the innovative choice is not to innovate.

When everyone else is changing things constantly, for you to be the one constant in the market might be a tremendous competitive advantage.

When everyone else adopts a “religion of the new” focused on ad tech and new media, choosing to advertise in “traditional” media has been an innovative choice (and it pays off big – that’s why Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon spend so much on TV advertising).

When everyone is worshipping new technology (say camera technology), the innovative choice may be to use the camera in your phone which meets customer expectation without driving price up. (This has been exactly Apple’s choice.)

Innovation is a tool (a critical tool) that is in the service of the company as it serves a market (of customers) and builds long term value (for investors). We must not embrace innovation for it’s own sake.

Our job is to lead our companies to the best competitive positions possible – with products that consumers want because the products deliver excellent value. It doesn’t matter whether that value is incredibly new (as the Tesla was) or old (as with good furniture made from solid wood – the stuff that has a grain instead of being pressed sawdust).

In the market, it’s the value that matters – not the “innovation”.

That means we MUST be tuned into when the right choice is not to change. Only then will we be fully free to lead our companies to profitable and powerful futures with the best innovation possible.

©2018 Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved

Categories:   Innovation, Methodology