Most people think of innovation as large scale and significant innovations like electric cars and business models like Uber. They often forget that the bread and butter of innovation are these small and minor ones. These minor innovations drive the long term profitability and survival of firms.
Literature on Minor Innovations
In the first episode of season three of the podcast, we explore what management research says about minor innovations. We use these lessons and create some actions steps for business managers. This episode will not only allow you to gain valuable insights from the literature but also use those lessons in your business.
The Problem with Management Science Literature
Most people tend to criticize management research as esoteric with little value for managers. Many managers have found that the literature is dense and difficult to grasp. Although there is an element of truth that most management literature is not only dense and difficult to understand, it is also so insignificant in its actionability, that managers may not get enough bang for their buck.
The Promise of Management Research
Although most individual research papers may be dense and of little significance for a manager, the literature as a whole has a fantastic knowledge. It is this body of empirical and conceptual knowledge that is valuable for businesses. Since I have been a part of both the business world and the academic world, I can not only see the chasm between the two worlds but can also see how each can benefit from the other. This season is my attempt to bring the management research, translated into actionable insights for managers. I hope you will find this season insightful and useful.
Take the example of the concept of minor innovations. Most people tend to not focus on them although they are the core of all innovations. It is useful to understand what the literature says about such innovations. Can you learn from the literature? Can those insights help your business? My answer is a big yes.
The key takeaways from this episode are:
1. How important are incremental and minor innovations?
2. What are some examples of companies that have built massive success on the foundations of minor innovations
3. How can minor innovation also disrupt firms?
4. Four Action Steps you can take from research on minor innovations.
This episode is based on numerous research papers. Some of the most critical ones are cited here. If you would like to explore more, these citations can help you.
Abernathy, W. J., & Clark, K. B. (1985). Innovation: Mapping the winds of creative destruction. Research Policy, 14(1), 3–22. http://doi.org/10.1016/0048-7333(85)90021-6
Anderson, P., & Tushman, M. L. (1990). Technological Discontinuities and Dominant Designs: A Cyclical Model of Technological Change. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(4), 604–633. http://doi.org/10.2307/2393511
Banbury, C., & Mitchell, W. (1995). The Effect of Introducing Important Incremental Innovations on Market Share and Business Survival. Strategic Management Journal, 16, 161-182. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2486774
Henderson, R. M., & Clark, K. B. (1990). Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 9–30. http://doi.org/10.2307/2393549
Methe, D., Swaminathan, A., & Mitchell, W. (1996). The underemphasized role of established firms as the sources of major innovations. Ind Corp Change, 5(4), 1181–1204. Retrieved from http://icc.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/5/4/1181
Utterback, W. (1996) Mastering the dynamics of innovation, xxix–253.
How to Listen?
You can listen to it right here by pressing the play button. You can also download the episode to your phone and listen to it using an app like Downcast. It is also available on iTunes, Google Play Podcast, and Stitcher Radio.