Lessons in radical innovation
Wolfgang Grulke, Gus
FT Prentice Hall
ISBN 0 273 65948 0
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Today half of the US’s economic growth comes from products that barely existed
a decade ago. But how do you generate an environment from which genuinely innovative
products and services emerge?
This book’s first lesson
is that ‘there’s no golden bullet for radical innovation.’ Having said that, they
explore the theory that companies suffer from ‘the innovator’s dilemma’ – a term
coined by Clayton Christensen in his book of the same name, which purports that
the industry leader is often toppled by an upstart who uses a ‘disruptive technology’
to gain an edge on the competition.
Grulke and Silber think
this happens because successful companies appear to turn into ‘serial incrementalists,
leaving the radical stuff to the crazy young upstarts.’
So what can companies do
to avoid this? The book looks at the practical experiences of great innovators,
where the catalysts are evolution, invention and technology. Technology is not,
contrary to popular belief, the be-all and end-all of innovation. ‘You are not
what you know, you are what you do. Tools are what you have. Technology is what
you do with those tools!’
Not resting on your laurels
is another essential tenet – ‘Water is the source of this company. Who says water
has to be its future?’ And in a key chapter buried towards the end of the book,
putting in place a mechanism to harvest ideas – ‘the process of finding and funding
radical innovation’ – is key. No matter how good an idea is, the authors point
out, ‘it means nothing unless it can be developed and applied commercially.’ To
which needs to be added successfully – and that means profitably. How does
a company do this? Ideas developed in the book include ‘identify the “low hanging
fruit” opportunities, and develop those first’.
Whilst the soundbite style
begins to pall after a while, the advice within is sound. Radical innovation is,
for the authors, essentially a matter of pride – ‘at the heart of these lessons
are bold visionary individuals who are proud of what they’ve created.’ Without
personal passion, ‘the cows of radical innovation don’t calve’. They don’t follow
the herd, either.
Inventing a Different Marketing Language
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(0)1628 427427 quoting WNIM-MARG1.
No, it isn’t a typo. The title of this book really is Margeting. As the author
‘”Margeting” is based on
the words “marketing” and “margin”. It is the constant creation of margins in
which desire can take shape and marketing can find new avenues for a more appropriate
relationship with consumers.’
Platteel is exasperated
by tired old brands, espousing tired old values, in tired old ways. Consumers
don’t buy it anymore (quite literally!). He believes that marketers need to bring
more innovation and creativity to the brands they create and the way they communicate
Platteel explores today’s
culture and consumers relationships with brands, highlighting why brands frequently
fail to engage meaningfully with consumers. He also looks at today’s brand identities,
which tend to be unambiguous, with strict interpretations of values and meaning
for the consumer. Whilst attractive for ensuring consistent messages, the messages
rarely register with consumers. He argues that consumers will engage more with
brands if the language (in its broadest sense) is ambiguous, and they are given
the freedom to interpret their own meaning. A cinema audience will remember different
aspects of the same film, recalling the scenes which most resonate or have meaning
for them. It is this principle that Platteel is keen to see brands adopt.
He also analyses five of
the most commonly used branding strategies in use today (Ironic, De-branded, Building
Block, Responsible and Humanized), and explores 13 pathways - areas where differences
between marketing and margeting emerge and are elucidated.
‘Brand managers must try
to incorporate individual desires into their brands. They must find ways to escape
from unambiguousness, uniqueness and interchangeability – otherwise individuals
will lose interest in their brands, and there will no longer be any reason for
them to exist.’
Platteel doesn’t believe
that existing techniques be jettisoned, rather that they try a bit harder to engage
consumers. The book is unquestionably thought provoking, and whilst many may find
the marketing/philosophy style hard going, it is well worth persevering with.
Pretentious and overly intellectual at times, it is nevertheless a book that oozes
creativity and ideas.
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