Chapter 1. The Need for Innovation

Radical, category-breaking innovation is what is needed today. Some companies can do it consistently but most can't. Why not?

The Need for Innovation

Time was, all a company needed to do was improve. If it did it continuously (and that was hard enough), it could expect to be successful. Those days are long gone. The information explosion, the global economy—all the things you'd have to have been in a coma to have missed—have conspired to change the rules. In fact, Harvard Business Review concludes that "pursuing incremental improvement while rivals reinvent the industry is like fiddling while Rome burns[1]" and Business Week believes that "what's likely to kill you in the new economy is not somebody doing something better, it's somebody doing something different."[2] Geoff Smith, VP of Business Development for Mitel, a manufacturer of telephone switching equipment, provides the perfect example. "Our competitors are not Lucent or Nortel," he maintains. "Our competitors are companies like Cisco that see voice communication as just another data application that they can give away. They're giving away our whole business."

So what is the new imperative? The Society of Management Accountants calls "innovation...fundamental to the quest for profitable, sustainable growth." [3] Peter Drucker, probably the most insightful management guru ever, deems it the one business competence needed for the future. Fortune magazine's advice to companies who want to be ...

Get Creating the Innovation Culture: Leveraging Visionaries, Dissenters and Other Useful Troublemakers now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.