“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller
This quote captures the future of innovation well.
The key element here is the notion of model; not products or technologies. We have reached a point where innovation on products and technologies are primarily table stakes. They will get you into the game, but you will no longer win just by bringing great products and technologies to market. The pace of change, business and innovation is too fast for this to happen.
You need to rethink the models in which products and technologies work and this requires a much broader focus on innovation.
Which companies are good examples of this approach? Some examples:
Apple: The App Store is the heart of their ecosystem. No further comments.
Better Place: They are trying to change the way we drive by offering switchable batteries for electric cars (although not successfully yet).
Inditex / H&M: The two clothing giants not only excel at operating retail shops. They also handle the design and the production – well, they handle the entire value chain – in bringing affordable quality clothing to the masses.
Natura: This Brazilian cosmetics company is committed to the quality of the relationships it establishes with the different sections of the general public with which it relates. This philosophy helped them create a very strong – and very successful – direct sales model and they are also actively using these relationships for the innovation efforts.
Premium Ingredients: A small Spanish-based company is trying to disrupt the food ingredients industry by offering new frameworks for developing projects from idea to market. This includes mini-factories and expert communities.
Welltec: New technology in the oil and gas industry is not readily accepted due to the costs of failure and Shell has estimated that new technology requires 20–30 years to achieve broad acceptance. Nevertheless, it took Welltec less than 14 years to go from groundbreaking technologies to being a solution-driven company for the development and management of oil and gas reserves.
You might also find some inspiration in this presentation: Business Model Innovation in a Global Manufacturing Industry Sector: Challenges and Opportunities. Here you can find examples from Grundfos, Rolls-Royce, Ericsson and Hilti.
Furthermore, Scott D. Anthony shares some great thoughts in this article: The New Corporate Garage
It would be great to learn about more companies that go beyond products and technologies in their innovation efforts. Can you share other examples?