Innovation as a Business Strategy – Dan Hodges

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Here is the challenge today.

I believe that we are in an inflection point. An inflection point is "an event that changes the way we think and act." Inflection points can occur as a single event or in a wave.

The invention and commercialization of electricity, the building of railroads, the invention of the telephone and computers were singular inflection points that had a progressive impact over time.

I believe that we are in an inflection wave period. The invention of the printing press with its consequent trends -- more literacy, more books, more education, but also unintended side effects like religious schisms and the wars that followed is an example of an inflection wave. We can draw lessons from inflection waves for the challenges we face today.

Here is how we got there.

The printing press started an inflection wave. The roots of inflection waves develop slowly over time and are difficult to see in the moment, but are clear to see in retrospect. Twenty-five years ago, Tim Berners-Lee released the code for his system that allowed ordinary people to access information over a network of computers called the Internet. Seven years ago Apple released the iPhone, which made smartphones easy to use.

A generation of learned behavior on computers was transformed almost overnight with the launch of the iPhone. Now consumers have portable computers armed with sensors and with the functionality to do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it. Welcome to our present day inflection wave, well underway and which has no end in sight, at the moment.

Here is what you can do.

An inflection wave is a disruptive and destructive event. Those unprepared for it can be swept away. Those who see it clearly, respond. It is my opinion that the best strategy for an inflection wave is to innovate and to invent new ways of doing business. You start with an informed idea and test it in the marketplace. Based on results you take the next steps.

Here are some simple business guidelines:


Identify: Technology trends and consumer behavior that will impact your business.

Investigate: The potential impact on your business.

Incubate: When an opportunity or trend is identified as a business priority, the next step is to accelerate the opportunity in the market. Testing the idea and measuring the impact is the best way to determine if this is a candidate for scaling the idea.

Peter Drucker offered this advice: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, but to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Dan Hodges is CEO and Founder, Consumers in Motion LLC. He can be reached atDan

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