Twelve search strategies that could save your organisation
Bessant, John; Stamm, Bettina von
Date: 1 January 2007
Advanced Institute for Management Research
In a fast moving world, one of the biggest challenges facing organisations is dealing with discontinuous innovation (DI). Most organisations understand that innovation is an organisational imperative. They learn to listen to customers and constantly evolve their existing products and services, continuously improve their processes, ...
In a fast moving world, one of the biggest challenges facing organisations is dealing with discontinuous innovation (DI). Most organisations understand that innovation is an organisational imperative. They learn to listen to customers and constantly evolve their existing products and services, continuously improve their processes, so that they are not left behind by competitors. The ability to deal with this steady state type of innovation – the constant storms of change within an industry – is essential. Every so often, however, a whirlwind blows through an industry – whether caused by regulatory or political change, a technology, or a product, so radically different that it changes the shape of an industry completely and in doing so puts many existing, successful companies out of business. In the early 1900s the buggy whip manufacturers in the US, an entire city dedicated to making a supposedly indispensable item, were put out of business almost over night by a new fangled machine called a quadracyle, built by a young inventor called Henry Ford. More recently Polaroid, one of America’s great and longest standing companies, almost went the same way as the buggy whip manufacturers. The instant photography company was wrongfooted by the advent of digital photography, making a number of strategic mistakes in responding to this threat to its business. For an organisation to be truly successful and sustain that success over many years it needs to be good at both steady state, conventional innovation, and to be able to sense a radical new discontinuous innovation on the horizon, and, preferably, come up with one itself. Being ready for discontinuous innovation requires a specific set of organisational skills, not least the ability to search for signs of the potential whirlwind that may sweep through an industry, or, as with the internet, across entire business sectors right around the world. This briefing document focuses on that search skill. By looking at what some leading organisations are doing in this area it suggests 12 different strategies for developing a search capability to detect triggers of discontinuous innovation. These strategies are also useful for more conventional innovation, and all organisations should employ some at least, if they aim to remain both competitive and durable.
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