David Frederick's | iAIR BLOG

Consulting, Innovation, Strategy, Vision, Education, & Ideation

The New Faster Face of Innovation

Here is a great article from MIT Sloan Prof.’s Erik Bynjolfsson and Michael Schrage. Its a great article that discusses the role technology is playing in innovation and aligns perfectly with what I consult my clients on. The only area that I have an issue with here and in the real world is execution. Conceptually, hypothetically, etc. I am 100% agreement with Erik and Michael’s position and article. But…. the biggest challenge here is getting clients and organizations to fully invest across the board with resources, time, effort, etc. to execute.

Most companies today talk a good game when it comes to innovation. They all want to do it or think they already do. But the reality is much different. In most cases, where practical innovation falls down is in the execution. Why? Because most organizations large and small dont have the time, risk acceptence, or resources to do the things Michael and Erik point out. They are to busy and frantically trying to close business, deliver product and services, meet customer demands. market expectations, etc. They can’t or are unwilling to experiment and potentially risk their business even though they know they need to innovate. So what they do is punt. The pretend to innovate by motivating people to think outside of the box, but in actuality really dont execute.

In some cases, the larger Fortune 500 companies or really small niche firms can afford to experiment. This is usually when they own the supply chain, distribution channel and market share. They can afford to tinker with ideas on segmented brands, products, services, isle placement, features, pricing models, even experiment in the store think Wal-Mart. But what about the rest of the world?

This is the crux of the matter with innovation. There are so many ways to distract your efforts under the guise of innovation. Real innovation is ultimately a discipline that requires experimentation, results and KPI definition and measurement, creativity, etc.. All of Erik and Michael’s points are valid, important and effective. But bridging the gap between conceptual and executional will always be the real challenge when trying to innovate.

Take a read of this article. I think it will be well worth your time. Also think about how to plan and execute the things discussed for your own business.


The New, Faster Face of Innovation
By Erik Brynjolfsson and Michael Schrage

Thanks to technology, change has never been so easy—or so cheap

CALL IT INNOVATION on steroids. Or innovation at warp speed. Or just the innovation of rapid innovation.

But the essential point remains: Technology is transforming innovation at its core, allowing companies to test new ideas at speeds—and prices—that were unimaginable even a decade ago. They can stick features on Web sites and tell within hours how customers respond. They can see results from in-store promotions, or efforts to boost process productivity, almost as quickly.

The result? Innovation initiatives that used to take months and megabucks to coordinate and launch can often be started in seconds for cents.
And that makes innovation, the lifeblood of growth, more efficient and cheaper. Companies are able to get a much better idea of how their customers behave and what they want. This gives new offerings and marketing efforts a better shot at success.


The Evolution: Technology is allowing companies to test new ideas at speeds—and prices—that were unimaginable even a decade ago.
The Effect: Innovation, the lifeblood of growth, is growing more efficient and cheaper.

What’s Ahead: Innovative companies will shift away from traditional research-and-development methods. Managers will change the way they solicit ideas. And much, much more.

Companies will also be willing to try new things, because the price of failure is so much lower. That will bring big changes for corporate culture—making it easier to challenge accepted wisdom, for instance, and forcing managers to give more employees a say in the innovation process.
There will be even better payoffs for customers: Their likes and dislikes will have much more impact on companies’ decisions. In globally competitive markets, they will ultimately end up getting products and services better tailored to their needs.
Already, this powerful new capability is changing the way some of the biggest companies in the world do business, inspiring new strategies and revolutionizing the research-and-development process.

“In the U.S., we do the vast majority of our concept testing online, which has created truly substantial savings in money and time,” says Joan Lewis, global consumer and market knowledge officer at Procter & Gamble Co.



Written by David Frederick

October 22, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Posted in iAIR, Innovation

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