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I just finished reading an interesting article in Forbes called Built for Innovation. Authors Stephen Wunker and George Pohle conclude that successful companies tend to approach innovation by embracing one of four models:
While reading this article, I found myself recalling an excellent book entitled "The Discipline of Market Leaders" by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema. In this book the authors suggest that successful companies must predominantly focus on one (and only one) of three core disciplines: Product leadership, customer intimacy, or operational excellence.
I always struggled with the conclusion in this book because I personally believe that a successful company can (and should) pursue excellence in each of these areas. And while focus is key, focus to the exclusion of other disciplines it can also be self-limiting in, not least of all, expectations.
I draw a parallel between the book and article. Taking the four innovation models as our point of reference, my hypothesis in innovation is that successful companies must foster innovation practices in each of the three process-oriented models, wary of the fact that visionary leaders appear few and far between. In other words, embracing one innovation model in particular appears equally as self-limiting, whereas the models themselves are complimentary and not mutually exclusive.