One of the points we emphasize in the book is that it’s all about ‘adoptive innovation’. The truth is that companies adopt many ideas from outside their own organization, then adapt and redeploy them for their own benefit. That’s a different philosophy to the idea of invention – but its easy to lose sight of it in the excitement of doing something new.
Even those organizations famous for their idea origination, bring some things in from the outside. In his ‘publishing 2.0 blog’,
“The new version of AdWords adopted Overture’s pay-per-click auction model, where advertisers bid on how much they will pay per click. If Google had copied Overture entirely, the history of the web might be very different… but they didn’t. Instead, Google introduced a breathtaking innovation.”
Here we seem to have adoption and adaptation going on, not just invention. Note how massively successful Google became by adopting what Overture had already invented and then adding to it. We think this is an important distinction. The majority of commercial innovators will improve if they acknowledge more fully to themselves that they are not acting as originators. Instead they are adapting something into a context. It might only need a 5% twist to turn something into a big winner for your organisation. Finding that twist is the important effort (and frequently happens during the trough of disillusionment). Too often, commercial innovators waste effort ‘re-inventing’ becuase they carry the mindset of inventor not adoptive-innovator.