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World War “I”: Innovation, Competitive Advantage, and Killing Great Ideas

Business Innovation

A world constantly striving to advance innovation is a world of controlled war; the fight for competitive advantage is more cutthroat than ever, with roughly one-third of business owners noting that, while customers are easier to find and more responsive to marketing efforts than in previous years, the intensity of marketplace competition is extreme enough to cause serious setback and challenges.

Rivalry has always been a driving force behind the consumer-motivated world economy, but much like in times of actual war, in a financial state that’s as rapidly fluctuating as ours, the battle to innovate is rocking the foundations of many long-held expectations about what it means to stay ahead.

Open Innovation and Sequestered Invention

“A world shaped by innovation rewards those who obtain leverage from smart uses of global resources,” says John Kao, author of Innovation Nation. That may be so, but there’s a thin line between taking advantage of your position and aggressively hoarding or hiding ideas. A few years back, when the Chinese government sought to lay down “indigenous invention” policies — meaning that certain business exploits could only be taken on by Chinese companies or Chinese companies in joint ventures with foreign entities — the international sphere basically lost its marbles. While the claim was that it was a tactic for fostering domestic innovation, it was perceived as an act of suppression, and one that made the comparatively slow expansion in the U.S. that much more troubling.

On a smaller scale, take the impact of proprietary or versioned gadgets and features; from a business standpoint, releasing updated, product-specific accessories is common, and a quick way to bump sales and adoptions. But in general, the practice makes customers grumble — why should they have to buy an entirely new product or pay to update a service, especially if they’re perfectly happy with what they already have? With integration now at the forefront of most company strategies, this solution could become wholly impractical going forward.

Attrition, Blockades, and Other Innovation Snipers

If the global economy is stuck in the middle of innovation warfare, it’s no help when the real problems are growing from domestic soil. Companies rarely realize how often they get in the way of their own progress, or how truly detrimental it can be to implement innovation without foundation. The three examples that follow are the most common and, as is typically the case, highly preventable:

  • Too many pre-launch iterations. How can the success of a product be accurately gauged by internal testing alone? Google does it right — almost every new product they release is introduced as a test. Early user feedback informs adjustments and allows the product to expand on its own, which not only gets them to market sooner, but ensures profitable market testing.
  • Not putting projects out of their misery. Says Inc’s Stephen Wunker, “Many projects never really die, they just fade away.” A sad truth and the byproduct, he says, of unmeetable expectations, divergent decision-makers, and teams that lose valuable players to higher-priority efforts. The fix? Governance. Innovation is only as useful as its infrastructure, and it’s in no one’s best interest to apathetically support something that’s already falling apart.
  • Starting research without knowing what to look for. Total reliance on traditional market testing is something that many companies consider a safe bet, but as a rule, innovation isn’t safe. We talk a lot about risk and reward, embracing failure, etc., but consider the very valuable lesson from the late Steve Jobs: when question about what level of development research Apple did for the iPad, he answered, “None. It isn’t the consumer’s job to know what they want.” In a nutshell, Jobs’ approach was to find gaps between what people said they wanted and what was available, then create a product based on the hidden need within that chasm. Innovation means focusing on where you aren’t, not where you’ve already been.

Despite the prevalence of this so-called innovation world war, the goal shouldn’t be to win. There’s no concrete end-game here, and in this context, peace would be equal to failure and inertia. Businesses today can, and should, strive to conquer and defend market space — but they’d better be ready to put up a serious fight.

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  1. The greatest threat to humanity is the power of big business. Above all, they are the ones who stifle innovation and the drive towards a sustainable human experience in perpetuity. Indeed the concept of humanity is at threat due to these power groups insatiable lust for profit and where according to Forbes a mere 2,000 companies control 51% of the global economic turnover of the world. Some of the few great humanitarian breakthroughs where I am personally aware of that big business has suppressed and destroyed are, 1. The humane non-addictive cure for hard drug addiction based on plants, where it detoxified long-term addicts in 72 hours with no ‘cold turkey’ or human side effects. The reason, it would kill tens of billions of drug sales and where this suppression because of the constant quest for profit, rises above even human life itself. 2. The introduction of a global strategy to prevent pandemics happening that worked in Hong Kong in 1997 and the only one ever to do so and stop the human-to-human killer virus in its tracks. The reason again, there are not the tens of billions in drug sales. Indeed when it comes and where Margaret Chan of the WHO only says that it is a matter of time not when, it will totally decimate the global economy and make the financial meltdown look like a storm in a teacup. But far worse it is estimated that it will kill over 300 million due to the rapid transit systems that we have now unlike 1918 when the Spanish Flu took up to 100 million lives worldwide, and where no family in the world will be unaffected through the loss of a loved one. Again where vast profits rise above human life itself and where such things are of crimes against humanity. 3. The introduction into Africa of PCR low-cost testing kits (the only one costing a few dollars that can determine HIV/AIDS in new born babies and where cheap remedies would then eradicate the diseases for life) that would save hundreds of millions from the scourge of HIV/AIDS and eventually eradicate HIV/AIDS globally by introducing into all nations throughout the world. The reason, big business and charities have a monopoly on the present testing kits that even make money for so-called international charities. 4. Where big business is and has constantly been buying up new patents that can benefit human sustainability but where because they hit the giant corporate’s ‘bottom-line’, they are shelved. We know this as our fellows tell us so and where they advise the largest corporate concerns in the world. Many of these are the answers to sustainability and the ways of sustaining the ‘human experience’ itself. But because they would knock the profits severely of current products, they are supressed. These and other major cover-ups and pure disenabling on the alter of vast corporate profits are the reasons why humankind does not find solutions. But the irony of all this that is constantly going on behind the scenes is that it will eventually even kill off the giant corporates themselves. Therefore the motto seems to be, bleed the system dry of monetary gain at the expense of everything, even human life itself. Can we be so stupid as a species to allow this as the Royal Society and MIT scientists have both independently predicted that by around 2032, the world will simply disintegrate in both social and economic terms under the dictates of the present global system. Innovation is therefore without doubt being destroyed on a daily basis by the avaricious appetite of the global corporate giant’s quest for vast profits and wealth of the very few – including politicians and the so-called corporate spin-off philanthropic organizations around the world who make billions out of humanitarian work without paying any corporation tax whatsoever. Dr David Hill World Innovation Foundation – See more at: http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2013/03/21/innovation-so-much-accomplished-but-so-far-short-of-full-potential/#sthash.qlWGCNX0.dpuf

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