This article is a brief review of Tim O’Reilly’s latest book entitled WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. It features an excerpt of Chapter 16 of the book which discusses on why entrepreneurs should shift their focus from disrupting the status quo to creating new markets and possibilities.
The excerpt explains 4 ways to achieve this: First, entrepreneurs should focus on what they value the most; no, it’s not the bottom line. Instead, Tim encourages its readers to have “big hairy audacious goals”. Secondly, entrepreneurs should create more value than they capture. This essentially means that entrepreneurs should always strive to give back more value and serve more people, instead of having self-serving goals.Thirdly, entrepreneurs should focus on the big picture and long-term outlook: what is the role of your entrepreneurial drive in making the world a better place. Fourthly, entrepreneurs should aspire to have an unwielding idealism in order to set an example to oneself and others.
“Only the paranoid survive”, a quote made famous by Andrew Grove of Intel Corp. will be more fitting if changed to “only the paranoid innovate”. Complacency can happen to any businesses, particularly when business is doing well. All indicators and metrics are glowing and nothing can seem to go wrong.
This is particularly true with customer experience. Businesses tend to get complacent with their customer experience, especially when all customer-related goals have been met. But customer experience is a journey, not a destination, and to stay ahead of the competition, you need to continually innovate. Why? Because the landscape is always changing: customers change, customer needs, desires, and expectations change, and the business itself changes. As Tom Fishburne of Marketoonist says in his : “If you want to remain number one, you have to think like number two.”
A recent McKinsey study points out that although 84% of C-suite executives think that innovation is important for growth, only 6% of them are happy with the innovation performance of their companies. This huge gap between expectation and result is partly because that most companies regarded innovation as tertiary rather than an indispensable need.
Another reason for this gap is that innovation can be slow and difficult to measure. Unlike other conventional strategies, innovation tends to move in an S-curve, moving at a slow pace until it bursts exponentially. Thus, innovation might go against C-suites’ interests for linear and measurable growth. However, C-suite executives can follow these four recommendations in order to improve innovation performance: 1. Don’t get trapped in your P&L; 2. Focus on problems, not ideas; 3. Classify the problem before you decide on a solution; and 4. Build for the few, not the many.
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