In Praise of Slow Innovation
Posted by Giles Lury on May 18, 2012
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There’s a great article in Fast Track “Why Tech’s Hunger For Overnight Hits Is Bad For Business : Tech is becoming a hits-driven business. This isn’t a good thing.”
In it, Farhad Manjoo argues that a crop of quick-fire megahits presents a danger for the tech business as there’s now a growing subsection of people in the Valley who think the only way to be successful is to create a viral overnight hit. His argument is that new technology isn’t like a movie, a finished product that you either like or you don’t. His belief is that some high-quality tech products take time.
Not only do I agree that it’s a danger for the high tech world, where many new products weren’t the overnight successes many now believe them to have been - “No one waited in line to buy the first iPod. It took a year and a half for Apple’s shiny, pricey music player to hit its millionth sale, and nothing about its trajectory suggested that success lay ahead” – but it’s also a problem for other industries too.
Not all new products and services, let alone new brands, are overnight successes (though it’s great when they are). Flora was on the market for years before it really took off following the release of more medical research, Smirnoff Ice took its time too, seeded first into the hip bars of the world before spreading out.
Not surprisingly, there is serious commercial and trade pressure for innovations from big businesses to deliver immediately. And this is probably the main reason many innovations lose support too quickly and are left to wither and die (and has led to the creation of a new marketing acronym – LAPD : Launch – Abandon – Panic – Delist)
It may also possibly be why so many successful innovations come from individuals, start-ups and small companies; because when they go into something it is often with more passion and more personal commitment and a willingness to give their baby time to grow.
So here’s to slow innovation and recognition that not everything can go ‘viral’!