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Lessons in radical innovation

Wolfgang Grulke, Gus Silber
FT Prentice Hall

ISBN 0 273 65948 0

Buy this book through CIM Direct and get a 20% discount off your purchase.
Contact CIM Direct on +44 (0)1628 427427 quoting WNIM-T5948.

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.

Margeting: Inventing a Different Marketing Language

Andre Platteel
Episode Publishers

ISBN: 9059730046

Buy this book through CIM Direct and get a 15% discount off your purchase. Contact CIM Direct on +44 (0)1628 427427 quoting WNIM-MARG1.

No, it isn’t a typo. The title of this book really is Margeting. As the author explains:

‘”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 with consumers.

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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