Innovation experts are always using this quote--or something like it. It comes in different flavors such as “Culture eats strategy for lunch” or “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” I saw it recently on Linkedin. Nobody questioned it. All I can say is: “Innovation writers and experts, beware.”
One thing is consistent:
These quotes are always attributed to
management guru Peter Drucker.
Why is that? Well, because these quotations sound like Peter Drucker. But when I saw another variation about a month ago online, I began to wonder “Did Peter Drucker really say this?” I just assumed he did because I have heard it over and over again in meetings...and even read it in print.
So I researched it….And guess what? My conclusion was “zip:" There is no evidence Peter Drucker actually said this in one of his many books or speeches. Now, I admit my search wasn’t comprehensive. It included my product development book library, Google, Google Scholar, and a couple of academic databases to which I have access.
But since I found no evidence he said or wrote this, I concluded that these quotations are apocryphal; Drucker’s name is attached to them because it seems logical he might have said them. And also, perhaps the idea proposed in these these statements holds a core of truth. However, if one of my readers finds a variation of this quote actually said by Peter Drucker, please let me know!
While many companies struggle to increase profits with radical innovation, others win with "re-invention." That seems to be the case with Fujifilm and its line of instant cameras. Take its very popular Instax Mini 8-- a small, boxy plastic pastel-colored "Polaroid-like" instant camera selling like hotcakes in many US markets.
Everyone over 40 remembers the clunky Polaroid cameras. So much fun, but not much to look at. Then a few years ago, Fujifilm came out with a new line of an old innovation--instant cameras in a smaller, cuter format. One of the most popular is the Instax Mini 8 that sells for under $70 in brick-and-mortar stores like Urban Outfitters, as well as online through sites such as Amazon.
When I first saw this adorable camera, I asked, How could Polaroid and Kodak lose out on this market? My answers to this question may be found in my June blog post on the subject....
But something still puzzled me. I wondered: Why are these instant cameras selling like hot cakes now--if the Fujifilm line of instant cameras has been available for some time? The question answered itself a few days later. A friend of mine told me how popular "Retro" items are with Millennials and Generation Z. I think my friend's sister purchased her pink Instax Mini 8 at an Urban Outfitters store nearby.
So that was my answer. iPhones and Facebook are not enough for young people today. They want to get together in person, snap instant pictures of each other, and keep those pictures as souvenirs--even though these photos are only the size of a baseball card. My hat is off to Fujifilm for having the patience and foresight to re-invent these cameras, and launch them in the market at the right time!
I thought Polaroid was dead—killed by digital photography. So imagine my surprise about a week ago. I was at a Memorial Day pool party. One of the guests pulled out a cute, colorful, plastic camera with a retro design. It immediately reminded me of the old “Polaroid” cameras my dad, a NYC illustrator used to use all the time. And that's what it was, sort of.
(Left to right) Fujifilm Instax Mini 8; Memorial Day Party; a Fujifilm 'Polaroid' of me at the party.
My friend started taking card-sized photos of people at the party. The photos developed instantly—in vivid colors with great clarity—and a Polaroid-type white border. But the brand clearly printed on the camer as Fujifilm not Polaroid. How did Fujifilm manage to come up with this cute little camera—the Instax Mini 8? I discovered it was based on Kodak (not Polaroid) technology combined with Fujifilm's Zinc printing technology. This model sells for $69.99 from Best Buy, while a somewhat similar instant camera, under the “Polaroid” name (the Polaroid Snap), sells for $99.95 on Amazon. It uses the Polaroid name, but isn't made by Polaroid and doesn't get great reviews.
I was totally puzzled. How could Fujifilm capture this market--or maybe I should say, reinvent it? What happened to Polaroid and Kodak? How did they lose the battle to become photographic leaders in this new digital world? Was it arrogance? Was it over reliance on branding and marketing? Or did Fujifilm just have more skilled internal people who made better decisions? I’m awaiting answers from my friends and colleagues in the new product development world.
What Darwin really meant by "natural selection"
With all the controversy that still hovers over Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, it was a pleasure to hear FAU Associate Professor Colin R. Hughes clear up some misconceptions February 5 at a talk he gave at the Hagen Ranch Library in Delray, FL. The talk was being held to celebrate Darwin’s birthday (actually February 12).
To me, particularly interesting was Prof. Hughes explanation of the phrase “survival of the fittest.” Hughes, a professor of genetics at Florida Atlantic University, explained that natural selection was much more complicated than that phrase would suggest; it is not some sort of “magic,” immediate formula that happens all the time in all situations. In fact, in order for it to come about, there have to be four variables in a species. Here’s an example he gave me later on using birds and their beaks.
#1—VARIATION There must be variation among the individuals in a particular "characteristic.” For instance, some of the birds may have larger beaks, some smaller.
#2—HERITABLE These variations must be “heritable.” That is, they are passed on to offspring. Bigger beaked birds have bigger beaked offspring.
#3—OFFSPRING Individuals must vary in the number of offspring they have. Some birds produce more chicks than others.
#4—ONE CHARACTERISTIC The number of offspring depends on variation in that characteristic. For example bigger beaked birds have more chicks than smaller beaked birds.
If all these four statements are true, that particular version of the characteristic will be more common in the next generation.
Using this example, the next generation of birds will have larger beaks on average. That is natural selection in beak size.
The Darwin Day event was sponsored by the Deerfield/Boca branch of Atheists and Secular Humanists of Florida (FLASH) a 401-c-3 organization, dedicated to the separation of government and religion.
Of course, the answer is yes. But then we might ask, Why wasn’t the company competitive—coming up with the new models and better quality that American consumers were looking for? Business coach Michael Hyatt suggested this morning that it was a lack of realistic goal setting. He quotes others in his post as saying that the company itself blamed “the competition”--always a bad excuse. (See link to Michael’s post below.)
However, I suggest that a number of other major forces stood in the way of innovation at GM.
I was keeping a close eye on U.S. car like makers like GM for 10 years, while I was Editor-in-Chief of PDMA’s Visions magazine from 2001 to 2011. I was constantly looking for an opportunity to publish articles about their “innovativeness.” That never happened. On the other hand, there were plenty of interesting articles to publish about Hyundai’s research and new models, as well as about the Chinese car company Geely (now owner of Volvo), a company that was working hard to become competitive—and succeeded.
Here are my thoughts about the underlying causes of GM’s lack of innovation:
Good news. The Global Innovation 1000 study is back. In fact, last year was the 10th anniversary of this study which is of so much interest to innovation experts. The study was launched by Booz & Co. 10 years ago, and it has been continued, by Strategy&, the new name for Booz which was acquired by PwC last April.
Actually, the results of the 2014 study came out last November. Maybe you read them and digested them at that time. But if you didn’t, stay tuned! I’ve gone over the report and excerpted highlights that I believe will be of the most interest to professional innovators. I’m calling these “InfoBytes” and will be publishing five of them over the next five weeks.
Uzzi discovered that the best teams were produced with what he terms “intermediate” levels of social intimacy. That mix includes a combination of old friends (experts), as well as newbies. “This mixture meant that the artists could interact efficiently…but they also managed to incorporate some new ideas,” he says.
Some researchers and/or practitioners are turning conventional wisdom upside down. When it comes to brainstorming, for instance, Keith Sawyer cites research that shows how ineffective this technique is—despite its popularity.
Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, puts it succinctly saying, “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.” Yet the myth of brainstorming success persists.
The problem seems to lie in one of the basic precepts of traditional brainstorming: no one can criticize anyone else’s idea. That prevents constructive debate and is the reason the technique does not live up to its promise.
For more on brainstorming, go to the March-April 2014 issues of Research-Technology Management to read the roundup by MaryAnne M. Gobble entitled "Beyond Brainstorming," pp. 60-61.