Posts Tagged ‘innovation’
This week’s readings have brought me to consider extremes. The Computerworld article “IT Governance: Stop the Pendulum!” discussed the pressures to centralizing and decentralizing IT and why companies are constantly swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other.
The article suggests that a better approach is a hybrid model, which avoids both the centralized and decentralized extreme and instead focuses on centralizing only the pieces that make sense and leaving the rest decentralized. This idea of finding the middle ground seems intuitive, but with local business unit leaders and corporate IT having a different set of needs, there will always be pressure to divert away from this compromise.
This idea of compromise is also the ultimate solution for the HBR case “Globalization of Wyeth.” The original plan is to completely centralize the entire IT process. Over the course of the lengthy implementation, the local business unit leaders push back on this plan and ultimately, the result is hybrid model.
Ultimately, this was probably a better option than what the company originally had, but also better than what corporate IT was suggesting. This really spelled out the needs of the different stakeholders and how they could exert power to negotiate away from the fully centralized approach.
In addition to finding a middle ground in a corporate IT policy, this idea of finding the middle ground can also be applied to the new trend of mass customization and additive manufacturing. In the Wired article “In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits,” 3D printing is discussed as an option to completely customize manufactured goods to an individual’s specification.
Although this added flexibility is enticing, this does not mean that we should simply throw away everything that has previously been learned from centuries of manufacturing. There must be a middle ground. Decentralizing the complete design of items will hinder the designers from learning from others mistakes and slow down the forward motion of innovation. On the contrary, a completely standardized (and centralized) method would hinder the creativity and flow of new ideas that feed into innovation.
The article addresses this concern and discusses the hybrid solution. When building the rally fighter, the design and exterior was crowd sourced but the internal, complex components, such as the engine, was sourced from BMW.
As innovation continues to push us further into the future, will we be able to finally understand that any extreme is likely a bad extreme and functioning in some sort of flexible hybrid/middle ground is the key to success?
This week’s readings have centered on communities of practice. Although I was not previously familiar with the term, this is something that I utilize and benefit from constantly. It was interesting to read about an idea that has become so embedded in my life without me realizing it. Years ago, I searched for information on specific topics in an effort to perform research, but today, I Google nearly everything. The items that I Google are often extremely random question that I am seeking a quick and immediate answer to. For example, in the past 24 hours, I have Googled the following questions seeking instant gratification:
The answers to all three of these questions were delivered to me by a community of practice. The first search directed me to the website Savvy Vegetarian. The site supports vegetarian & vegan diets and is comprised of a community randing from life-long veg to those just thinking about it. The site’s goal is to provide/promote “easy recipes, simple cooking, health eating, green living.” The second and third search directed me to Yahoo! Answers, a forum where people ask and answer each other’s questions and readers rank the answers based on validity. Although the Savvy Vegetarian and Yahoo! Answers have a different scope, they are similar in that they are based on the open sharing of knowledge. Individuals with different skillsets collaborate in order to inform novices and share learnings relative to their topic of expertise.
As more and more communities of practice find their home online, more and more individuals have access and are able to get involved and benefit from them. This is particularly interesting in regards to communities that are seeking the development of new technology and innovation because the online space has the ability to drastically decrease the time between problem designation and solution development. As a result, my question to the class would be, what industry can/has benefit(ed) the most from online communities of practice?
In The Washington Times’ article, “Steve Jobs: visionary revolutionary,” Steve Jobs is labeled as a visionary because he was able to look into the future and see what the next big thing would be. After reading Christensen’s book, “Seeing what’s Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change,” I feel as though I’ve been granted a behind the scenes look into his thought process. Chapter 1 describes four unique situations where change is possible and innovation will likely succeed by way of disruptive technology.
1. Undershot Customers – Current customers have a complex problem and the current product is not providing an acceptable answer.
2. Non-consumers – People have a task that needs to be done, but currently do not have the money or skills needed to accomplish it.
3. Overshot Customers – Current customers feel that products are far too complex and/or expensive, but have no choice but to purchase them anyways because there are no alternatives.
4. Nonmarket Context – Government regulations have shifted the environment and altered industry motivation and/or ability.
After understanding the nature of these four situations, it appears as though Steve Jobs focused on both undershot customers and non-consumers in launching new products. With the iPhone, Steve Jobs was targeting undershot customers. He saw that the consumers were currently underwhelmed with their phones and that they were forced to carry around several devices in order to accomplish their tasks.
Music –> Pod or MP3 player
Internet Access –> Computer
Phone Calls –> Mobile Phone
Realizing that the market was filled with undershot customers; Steve Jobs recognized the opportunity for innovation and unveiled the iPhone. The undershot consumers jumped at the opportunity to purchase the iPhone because although the price was high, it fulfilled their needs where other devices previously fell short.
In addition to focusing on undershot customers, it’s difficult to imagine that Steve Jobs did not have non-customers in mind when leading the development of iTunes. At the time, the majority of customers were either purchasing CDs and burning them to computers or stealing music. Many of those stealing music were doing so because there was no legal way to obtain music in a digital format. Steve Jobs recognized that people were willing to pay a reasonable amount for digital music, but simply had no way of doing so because there was no product or service with that offering. This sparked the opportunity for innovation, and Steve Jobs jumped on it with the release of iTunes.
ITunes gave the non-customers a service that could accomplish the task of legally downloading music. Through the release of iTunes, Apple was able to convert these non-customers into customers by recognizing their unmet needs, and fulfilling them.
It is clear that Steve Jobs had a knack for recognizing the four situations where innovation will likely succeed. Looking forward, will Tim Cook spot similar opportunities and continue driving Apple forward with innovative products and services?
In the summer of 2004, while just starting as an intern at FierceMarkets, a coworker sent me an invitation to create a Gmail account and I’ve been following Google in some way, shape, or form, ever since. It often appears as though everything that the company slaps its name on or develops turns to gold and every market it enters, it dominates. Although this case reads a bit like the Wikipedia page of Google, it’s interesting to read the in-depth history of a company that I personally find intriguing.
What I found the most interesting is how Google is such a prime example of a company that does things correctly. Google has never type casted itself as a search engine company (read more about Ted Levitt and Marketing Malpractice in my previous post). Instead “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible to all.” In addition, Google understands the importance of a shared value and vision and lives and breathes it. Extremely important decisions are routinely based on the philosophy of “don’t be evil.” It truly impresses me that the company, which Fortune placed 2nd on its 2011 list of most admired companies, so closely follows the strategies that I am currently learning about as an MBA student.
Google seems to be doing nearly everything right, but being on top today does not ensure future success. Being on top means you must constantly fight to stay on top. The case asks what Google should do next and the clear answer to continue innovating. To date Google has been so successful because it has constantly changed and improved and developed and created. As long as the company can continue to hire the right people and focus on constant innovation, it will continue to be successful.
This Wikipedia page was quite interesting. What jumped out to me the most was the logic of the existing firm being aware of the new technology, but not valuing it enough to disrupt operations in order to pursue it. As a result, a start-up will be able to steal market share from the existing company by utilizing the disruptive technology. In this scenario, the existing company often takes a “me too” strategy, which will never allow them to regain the lost market share, in fact, the best case scenario is that it stops losing market share. This really makes me wonder, is there a more preemptive approach for existing companies to take?
How could a start-up company utilizing a Judo strategy take advantage of disruptive technology?