Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See That Others Miss

This business book, by Ron Adner, is a quick, skimmable read with a very valid point: innovations don’t happen in a vacuum. They are part of an ecosystem, and if the ecosystem isn’t ready to change, the innovation can’t possibly succeed. A key example would be Apple’s iPod. It was far from the first MP3 player, but it was the first to succeed, because it was the first to bring a complete business ecosystem into existence that involved the artists, the music publishers, electronics retail, and digital distribution. The book is full of examples of both successes and failures, ranging from electric cars to digital projection to breathable insulin, and many others. “Minimum Viable Product” has been a Silicon Valley buzzword for about a decade now – this book introduces a similarly useful concept, the “Minimum Viable Ecosystem.” This has tremendous relevance for a number of things I’m working on: educational games, virtual reality, interactive museums, and more. I’m very glad to have read it, for it has helped me realize that focusing on one’s invention alone is unlikely to lead to success – one must take a wider view, and think about everything that invention touches.

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