Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Innovation v. Novelty

Innovation is about finding new ways of meeting consumers’ needs, including ones they did not know they had. Sometimes it comes from a laboratory scientist but, more often, the innovation that changes the business landscape comes from the imagination of a Henry Ford or Walt Disney, Steve Jobs or Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
That is from John Kay, writing in the FT, who also notes:
[U]nderstanding the needs of customers is what distinguishes innovation from novelty. Quirky inventors have a place in the affections of everyone who enjoyed physics or chemistry at school. But...[p]ioneers of innovation are routinely pushed aside by competitors whose skills are in the marketplace rather than the laboratory.
Thanks to Keith Hansen for the tip.