Being Good Versus Being Innovative

Another perceptive post from Scott Berkun, this time on the issue of ‘simply’ focusing on being really really good at what you do, in the sense of consistently providing compelling solutions to customer problems.

While we’re fond of trumpeting the praises of Apple (AAPL), whose iPod revolutionized music, we forget how dismal the competition was. It was not a field of masterpieces; it was a motley crew of ugly, clunky, painfully hard-to-use devices. Apple applied basic design sense to an immature field at a time when the world was ready for something better. Firefox, which rekindled innovation in Web browsing, arose from Microsoft’s near abandonment of its Internet Explorer Web browser after the browser war with Netscape ended. Their version 6.0 release was a major step backward, opening the door for someone to win by merely providing something good, which Firefox did in 2004. Google (GOOG) was launched a decade after the invention of search engines; Amazon (AMZN) was not the first online bookstore. But they were both the first to do a good job at selling their good services for a good profit. In retrospect, their successes seem amazing, but at the time, the goals were simple and the objective humble and clear: Be good, or at least better than the other guys. For they knew that alone was hard enough.

In my experience there is often a odd game that’s played where corporate customers explicitly request ‘innovative solutions’ when a ‘really good’ one would have created miracles in customer satisfaction if properly carried out.

Although they say they want/demand an innovative solution they are often simultaneously worried about it because it’s new and unverified!

The examples given above demonstrate that focusing on the very good, and admittedly adding in a healthy dollop of the necessary chutzpah, can deliver results already beyond most people’s and organisation’s dreams.


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