Tag Archives: Obama

The risk of NOT innovating

We are at that time of the year when many of us are working on next year’s strategic plans. A question that often arises is, “What is the risk of [doing something new]?” What is asked less often is, “What is the risk of not doing something new or distinctive?”

‘Innovation = life’ when you court early adopters

In newly emerging markets—be they as high-tech as augmented reality or as low-tech as fashion—the answer is obvious. Innovation is occurring all around you; those who so not innovate enough will be left behind. The challenge here is to stay ahead of everyone else (instead of copying the innovation of others).


  • Facebook out-innovated MySpace, Friendster, and everyone else
  • Can you name three competitors of Amazon from the late 90s?
  • FourSquare crushed Gowalla (and is standing up to Facebook)

Innovation allows you to ‘cross the chasm’

When you are entering the tornado, (i.e., when demand takes off and the top leaders are established), the speed of change requires innovation to shift from creation to speeding and scaling execution. You need to be able to out-market, out-deliver and out-support the competition. If not you will find yourself as Chimp (or worse).


  • AOL out-ran all other ISPs—including a buy-or-break challenge by Microsoft
  • McDonalds’ innovations in franchising has enable it to serve billions
  • Ford’s Model T made cars affordable for the masses

Innovation keeps leaders on top

When you are the leader, everyone is aiming to displace you. Innovation in marketing and promotion will keep demand for your product fresh. Innovation in partnerships and distribution will create barriers to block you competition. The challenge is ensuring your teams know they have to keep innovating once they have reached the top.


  • Intel is still the worlds largest chip maker (in a world with Moore’s Law)
  • GE is the only original Dow Jones stock still independently trading
  • Nike has been the top provider of sporting equipment for decades

Innovation is the only way to disrupt the leader

The familiarity and market share of leaders gives them enormous advantages in terms of cost of sales, speed of sale, distribution, etc. If you are smaller, you cannot disrupt a market leader by being playing “me-too” (unless the leader makes a big mistake). You need to “change the market” by meeting needs your customers did not realise they had or delivering in ways established “leaders” cannot match.


  • Salesforce is worth nearly 3x what Siebel was when it sold to Oracle
  • RedBull has wings
  • President Obama’s campaign managers used social media, mobile, and CRM software to raise more money than more-established opponents

Innovation is the only way to ensure life in the future

Clayton Christensen has written volumes on need the foster disruptive innovation to ensure your remain a leader in the future (see my notes below). If you do not invent the future, someone else will—moving your market to a place where they lead (and you do not). If you want to avoid this, you have two option (ones that need not be mutually exclusive): 1) create incubation teams to innovate the future or 2) acquire proven innovators (this can be expensive).


  • Apple continuously invents the “next big thing”
  • Amazon is selling more books on Kindle than in print
  • IBM went from typewriters to computers to services (and acquisition of many business information infrastructure innovators)

So what is the risk of not innovating?: your entire future

Notes: This post draws on two of my favorite books, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “Crossing the Chasm.” If you like this post, I encourage you to read “iPad’s Climb Up the Disruptive Innovation Cycle” by Hutch Carpenter and “Social Networking Sites, Market Segmentation and the Innovation Cycle” by Digvijay Singh.

Social Networks for Business Tip #8: Treat Your Community Like a Garden

I have found ten common tips that apply irrespective of what your enterprise does, your market is or what technology platform you are using. This is my eighth tip in this series. There will be 10 total posts; each with a particular theme. They are intended to be read in the order presented, building upon each other…


Communities are Ecosystems

180px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17The largest difference between “Web 2.0” enterprise social media communities and “Web 1.0” enterprise web sites is based on content. Traditional web sites are built around relatively static content created in accordance with Corporate Communications, Legal and Public Relations guidelines. On the other hand, social media communities evolve around user-generated content, i.e., content dynamically created, edited and critiqued by external groups like customers, employees and partners. How this content (and the community) evolves is subject to many conditions outside of the enterprise’s control, ranging from entry of a hostile individual to formation of competing and cooperative groups. In essence social media communities are living ecosystems.

What Happens When You Don’t Manage Your Ecosystem

When you don’t manage your community as an ecosystem, it can quickly evolve in many ways into something very different that what you intended to support your enterprise:

1. Die-off Due to Lack of Resources

If your community does not reach a critical mass of content to foster participation and collaboration it will simply die off due to inactivity. Members will simply not have enough content to make it worth their time to return or inspire them to contribute.

The way to avoid this is to seed you community with compelling, inspiring content. An enterprise community that does a great job of this is American Express’ OPEN Forum. They have partnered with over two dozen expert contributors to provide valuable content for their community:

2. Die-off Due to Lack of Population Diversity


If your community does not have a critical mass of members, it will not generate enough connections and interactions to make it self-sustaining. Members will not form relationships that encourage them to return or foster the collaboration required to create community-unique new content.

The way to avoid this is to nurture development of your membership. First advertise the existence of the community across every channel you have. Second, monitor the results, learning what works and what doesn’t. Finally, make this a continuous improvement process to sustain your membership. An enterprise community that does a great job of this is Men’s Health Belly-off Community. If you don’t believe me just pay attention to the magazine covers the next time you are in the checkout line:


3. Take-over By Encroaching Elements

If you do not put the proper safeguards in place, groups of individuals can essentially “hijack” your community by creating content that is counter to your mission and bringing in members to feed on this to make it the dominant material of you community. At best, this will drive out those members you are trying to attract; at worse it will damage your brand.

The way to avoid this is to put controls in place to essentially prune you community of undesired content and behavior (these controls are complex enough that discussion of them will be the subject my next tip, “Create a Safe Environment.”) Someone who did this well was AOL with its fostering of the concept of safe online communities in the 1990s. A recent example of someone else who did not can be found by clicking on the image below:


The Take-away: Treat Your Community Like a Garden

Gardens – from English Botanical to Japanese Contemplative to Home Vegetable – serve as fine examples of tending an ecosystem to produce highly desirable results. Apply the same techniques you would use to manage a successful garden that you would to produce a great business community: