October 11


What you could learn from ‘On Innovation’ from HBR (2013, 171 pages)

If you do not update your business model and your products the market will conspire to erode your profitability as your products will descend down the life-cycle to their demise.   This decline can be stopped.  By renewing both your product and your business model, you can ensure that you remain competitive (see below).  Therefore, this act of renewal, or innovation, is key to driving organic growth.


But what is the best way to innovate?  A lot has been written about innovation, but how do you distil and prioritise what to read?  Luckily the Harvard Business Review ‘On Innovation’ is a collection of their top ten articles on innovation.  While some of the material is a little dated, and innovation in  is seen as driven from the top down, the book provides a good overview of the topic and some good pointers (see below).  You should read this book for a grounding in the field of innovation.

Link to the book on Amazon

Link to the HBR website


  • Innovation can be found by identifying key customer pain points
  • Innovation can also be found if you map what customers and colleagues do.  People do tasks in a set way, and you can innovate in each of these steps
    • Define
    • Locate
    • Prepare
    • confirm
    • Execute
    • Monitor
    • Modify
    • Conclude
  • Status quo (business as usual) will always win in a direct battle over resources, so never fight directly
  • You need to screen ideas for success
    • Is it real (is the market real, is the product real)
    • can we win (can the product be competitive, can our company be competitive)
    • Is it worth doing (will the product be profitable at an acceptable risk, does launching the product make strategic sense)
  • Assumptions you need to check to improve the probablity of success
    • Customers will buy our product because we think its a good product
    • Customers will buy our product because it is technicals superior
    • Customer will agree that our product is great
    • Customers run no risk of buying from us that they do from their existing suppliers
    • The product will sell itself
    • Distributors are desperate to stock and sell our product
    • We can develop and produce the product on time and on budget
    • We will have no trouble attracting the right staff
    • Competitors will respond rationally
    • We can insulate our product from competition
    • We will be able to hold down prices while rapidly gain market share
    • The rest of our company will support our strategy and provide help where needed