Sunday, March 21, 2010

Different Perspective on Innovation..

The article "'Good' Beats 'Innovative' Nearly Every Time by Scott Berkun caught my eye immediately. As a senior in business school, we spend a fair amount of time discussing the importance of innovation in the business world. In his article, Burkun makes the distinction that what we as business professionals perceive as innovation, is rarely that. Rather, recent seemingly ground breaking successful products commended for the innovation have been results of successfully fulfilling a need that isn't being adequately being met by a lesser product. Using Firefox as an example, Burkun points out that Firefox was simply an answer to Microsoft's lack of attention to internet Explorer. After successfully winning the browser war against Netscape, Microsoft dropped the ball. Firefox simply saw the opportunity to improve upon an existing product riddled with flaws that were being ignored by the industry leader at the time. Firefox's success wasn't attributed to being a new or inventive product. They simply took what Microsoft was already doing and improved upon it.

Also discussed by Burken was the fast and loose usage of the term "innovation". While managers are focused on the next best ground breaking product revolution, they loose focus filling the market with new fangeled products that rarely meet customer expectations.

I feel the point that Burken is driving home is that the processes through which a perceived "innovative" company goes through to reach success is rarely focused on innovation; but, at simply being good at what they do. When approaching a business problem, one should be concerned with finding what customer want and being the best at providing it. Through this process, you, your company, and your product will reach the status of the elite business innovators.