Strategic Approaches of Innovation

June 20, 2019

Art is created through an internal dialogue we have with ourselves and results in a form that expresses who we are or want to be. It results in intrinsic values – the value of the thing itself without concern for the value or usefulness the external world places on it.

Innovation is fueled by a compulsion to change the world – for profit or to achieve a social impact.   It is the dialogue the maker/creator/inventor has with the external world. Innovators need an audience and start working with an audience in mind. Artists are happy to find an audience but that’s not the primary reason they create.

This is part three of seven of the Corzo Center's Black Book. Read more at

Strategic Approaches of Innovation

Folks who take a strategic approach are looking at the “big, big picture.” They are looking at the big trends that are reshaping the world, both short and long term. Such a view allows them to take advantage of external forces without requiring them to “invent” new things.

Disruptive Innovation.  In the last 40 years, we have been overwhelmed by waves of transforming media and technology – from the personal computer to the cell phone, from floppy disc to DVD, from ATM to online banking, from broadcast TV to cable to online streaming, etc.   Each of them and others has spawned a host of new businesses – day-to-day, minute-to-minute. The characteristic of each: improved access and reduced cost.

Think about the impact of previous disruptive innovations—printing, telegraph, airplanes, automobile, television, or the personal computer.   Imagine the potential of new disruptive innovations – robots, drones, nanotechnology, universal information sources, virtual and immersive reality, 3D printing, DNA technology, or artificial intelligence.

Incremental Innovation.   One need not take advantage of the most recent disruptive technology to innovate.   New technology provides a way of adding improvements to already existing products and services.  The incremental sharpens a brand identify while limiting the risk of being ahead of the marketplace. And there’s the added virtue: inventing and testing is work already done by someone else.

Examples. Uber is little more than a business model that combines a mobile app with the process of calling a “cab.”  While Uber’s use of technology is not disruptive, its business model is: eliminating the middleman, it directly connects user with service provider.   And then follows Lyft. Starting after Uber, it learned from Uber, what it did and how the model could be improved. Uber was doing the work and the testing that Lyft relied upon.

Regressive Innovation.   There is a simple model that requires no invention.  It only requires that one understand how an old product or service (a disregarded technology) can be used by a new audience or market for a new purpose.  

Take the bicycle: in the US, for most of the 20th Century, the automobile was the primary tool used for personal travel. The bicycle was for children.   But in the last two decade the bicycle has been rediscovered by adults. It is now the machine used by urban Millennials and makes possible enterprises like Bike Share to service them.  

Or consider the windmill:  Nearly 2000 years old, used in agriculture and in pumping water, it is now at the center of a new economy designed to provide cheap and non-polluting energy.

Part four will continue with how to find opportunities.