It’s a story that repeats itself throughout the business cycle: upstart company causes upheaval and disruption throughout the market place. Said company then takes its place among the industry elite, coasts on its laurels and becomes at best irrelevantly successful and at worst the victim of the next upstart.
About this Video
Road to Innovation is a ScribeMedia/BrainJuicer co-production and includes interviews from leading practitioners and thinkers in the corporate, scientific, branding and media space as we explore change, disruption and innovation across various industries.
Think Nike, no longer the brand innovator that burst on the scene by fashioning the feet of Michael Jordan. Or Microsoft, now fudging its way through desktop operating systems no one really wants while companies like Google have already moved to the computational cloud.
The issue here is one that befuddles corporate culture: once you corner the market do you batten down the hatches and defend your turf, or do you continue to take risks and branch out into into the perpetual unknown?
Or, as market researcher, founder and CEO of BrainJuicer, John Kearon puts it, are you a farmer who harvests what you’ve planted, or a pioneer seeking new fields to sow? Do you seek incremental change or strive for the game changer?
More often than not, successful companies farm while fighting for market share, but in that fight for market share they also recognize the need and value of true innovation. The question becomes, can they do it?
There’s an inherent tension to this process. On the one hand, a corporation needs the cultural flexibility to take risk, move outside its comfort zone, interact with outsiders and constantly think itself anew. On the other, a corporation needs to do all this while not distracting itself from their core.
“WD-40 is the golden goose,” explains Graham Milner, Executive Vice President, Global Development and Chief Branding Officer of WD-40, when discussing the company’s open innovation approach. “Your job is to get more golden eggs, but whatever you do, do not kill the golden goose. And killing the golden goose is a lot about don’t mess with success. Don’t fix that which isn’t broken.”
The innovation challenge remains though, and corporations are creating often autonomous innovation teams to deal with the task.
For example, in the video above, Kearon talks with Russ Conser, General Manager, GameChanger, Shell; David Thomas, European Innovation Leader, Mars Europe; Kevin G. McFarthing, Director, Strategic Alliances, Reckitt Benckiser, Milner and others about the challenges they face, the failures they’ve endured and the success they look forward to in the future.