The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation

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Some business authorities declare that innovation is at the heart of sustaining viability for any business. The competition, changes in consumer preferences, or technological advancement is likely to push businesses that don’t innovate out of the marketplace. Most companies engage in incremental improvements (which arguably is a form of innovation), but some academics advocate more than just incremental innovation to ensure product viability. Most innovation methodologies that are being touted today are disruptive innovation (one that can potentially destroy the marketplace, as digital cameras destroyed the film camera industry) or blue ocean innovations (where a company discovers a market need and moves to fill it, as Novo Nordisk did with its insulin pen).

This book offers another alternative. That is, to focus on the core product and build supporting products and services to make the core product more appealing to the customer. The main focus is that these complementary products and services work together toward a single strategic focus. Finally, the distinctive characteristics (even those delivered by outside partners) are centrally controlled. After the references to where this approach was used, a framework of decisions to be made is presented, and subsequent chapters explore the salient questions (one chapter is devoted to each of the questions). These questions are: what is your key product, what is your business promise, how will you innovate, and how will you deliver your innovation?

The book has several anecdotal examples, but no systematic study to validate the methodology. Further, there are no examples to indicate that this framework was willfully deployed to gain market advantage. Hence efficacy of the methodology is not yet proven. However, as with any novel business framework, the methodology needs first to be identified before it can be deployed, and it may be too early for empirical evidence to make its way into published literature.

Reviewed By:

Author David Robertson • Kent Lineback, Contributor
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Harvard Business Review Press
Publish Date 2017-May-02
ISBN 9781633691681 Buy this Book
Issue January 2018
Category Business & Investing


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