Conservative innovation

Is “conservative innovation” a contradiction in terms? Not at all, I argue in my latest essay at Digital Renderings, my online newsletter. Many of the most lucrative business innovations are fundamentally conservative, I suggest: they don’t create market disruptions but mend them.

This essay originally appeared in Strategy & Business about a year and a half ago, but I thought this might be a good time to recycle it. I sense that we’re probably at the point in the development of Web 2.0 when smart “disruption-menders” will begin to sweep up the money that the technology-obsessed disrupters have left on the table.

5 thoughts on “Conservative innovation

  1. Mike Drips

    Well, I read your essay and while I agree that there are and have been innovators I can’t see how you are applying a label of conservative to them. Even looking up the definition of conservative didn’t work for me in attempting to make the connection. I’m not being negative, just a tad dense more than likely.

    As for Web 2, so far it appears to be a hope to sweep up cash from brain dead VCs who didn’t learn the lessons of Web 1.

  2. vinnie mirchandani

    I presented to a group of CIOs last week who before my speech did a McKinsey survey and said only 10% of tech innovations would come from their own staff. I told them they were too modest. I proceeded to talk about all the applied innovation a number of CIOs and CTOs are doing with basic tech building blocks from web services to RFID to mobility – nothing earth shattering but with significant process impact and by the end several of them walked up to me and said they agreed the little innovations were huge payback. Especially since tech vendors are only recycling 10c of every dollar CIOs pay in to R&D and then delivering questionable innovation…

  3. Sam Hiser


    You continue in The Zone.

    This is an interesting theme that deserves more attention. It reminds me of David Bowie who said once that he preferred to be the second act to explore a new sound.

  4. Arnie McKinnis

    My prediction is that one of the next wave of development(s) for Web 2.0 will be providing consolidation of all the “stuff and places” a single person uses. For example I might have the following: eBay auctions, Craiglist classifieds, a blog, comments I make on other’s blogs, news feeds, bookmarks, tag clouds, calendar events, pictures on Flickr, etc. I a single “place” to review what I’ve done and where – edit where appropriate and move on. That place does not exist today – but it will soon. And that’s not disruptive, it’s helping put order to chaos.

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