Many companies get it wrong when it comes to creating new products. They focus on what they need for revenue streams, how to evolve current products into new extensions, and immersing themselves in their R&D labs. Then they take the new product out to a focus group to get feedback.
This process, however, is backwards. Innovative products really come from users who have a need for something. And often, those users are finding work-arounds to solve their needs. Research by Eric von Hippel—Professor of Management of Innovation and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan—conducted with Steven Flowers, Jeroen de Jong, and Tanja Sinozic, found that 6.1% of consumers in the U.K. over the age of 18 had created or modified a product for their own use within the last three years.
This past fall, Tim Worstal wrote in the Forbes article, “The iPhone 5s, Proof That Apple Has Given Up On Innovation,” that the iPhone 5s is just another example of Apple “steadily losing its mojo following the death of Steve Jobs.” Worstal echoes the growing speculation that Apple is no longer capable of producing great disruptive inventions e.g., the Mac, and is simply coasting on the momentum of the innovation tidal wave they created rather than navigating new waters.
But it’s difficult—and arguably a waste of time—to prove that a company has stopped innovating. Apple represents the collective nerve it strikes in the business world: fear that once you reach a certain point of success, you will no longer be able to consistently innovate to satisfy user demand while beating your competitors.
Is it possible then to create an environment built to create consistent innovation over time? Three innovation experts at MIT Sloan say yes.
Data breaches in the news over the past two months have affected millions of people; 110 million Target shoppers and 1.1 million Neiman Marcus customers. Retailer Michaels Stores is investigating a possible data breach. In addition, some Marriott Hotels, Holiday Inns, Sheratons, and other sites managed by White Lodging Hotels were also the target of cybercriminals. As these retailers, businesses, and industry experts brief Congress on the situation, consumers are learning more about the implications of cybercrime. The overall takeaway is that data breaches are common and will continue. In fact, as The Washington Post reported in “Experts warn of coming wave of serious cybercrime,” “Only 11% of businesses have adopted industry-standard security measures … and that even these ‘best practices’ fall short of what’s needed to defeat aggressive hackers.”
Contributed by MIT Sloan Executive Certificate holder and guest blogger Juan Ignacio Genovese
Strategy can be defined as thinking about and establishing new ways to reach company goals, and although many examples exist, few models of winning business strategy provide the diversity of tools necessary for actualizing that strategy.
Most readers are aware of the important influence of Michael Porter, author of Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. However, his model does not necessarily make us take action; rather, it determines what we should be aware of to protect and increment our market share. Another example is The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy Into Action, written by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. However, this book is not a tool for modeling strategy but for measuring the strategic impact of our actions. Although there are many other books about the subject, most do not successfully present a complete strategic model.
While searching for a powerful strategic model to use in my position as a marketing consultant, I discovered MIT Sloan Professor Arnoldo Hax’s The Delta Model: Reinventing Your Business Strategy. The strength of this model is that it puts the customer at the center of the strategy, with the goal of achieving customer bonding. The model is based on application of the eight competencies of the firm—specific strategies developed by Professor Hax that help us accomplish our final goal of customer bonding. Each of these strategies will work for a particular market segment.
“It’s like getting an MBA in two weeks,” says Tauseef Ayaz, who recently completed an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership.
Executive certificates are earned by taking four courses—three in a chosen track, and one more in any of the three tracks. Ayaz earned his certificate with four Management and Leadership programs that really pack a punch: Transforming Your Leadership Strategy; Essential Law Executives: The MIT Advantage; Strategic Marketing for the Technical Executive; and Fundamentals of Finance for the Technical Executive.
An account manager at Nokia—a global leader in mobile communications—Ayaz says he found the courses challenging and in line with his career. In addition, he says the short-term schedule allowed him to complete the certificate without too much time away from the office. “The program’s flexibility was very helpful. It was just the right amount of time and effort.”