SOLVING THE INNOVATOR’S PARADOX – Part III
Nowadays, in complex fields that are attempting to build disruptive technologies and give birth to emerging markets, a key (tool) that is gaining traction very fast and is very efficient at handling uncertainty is the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It has been developed by many great thinkers, including Eric Ries of the Lean Startup revolution.
As no one knows the needs of an emerging market (simply because it does not exist yet), typical market analysis tactics are not possible. The MVP process is like the scientific method, and in essence it enables us to validate our assumptions while we discover together what our needs are. The advantage of such a process is that it enables optimization of the development of what the emerging market really wants, instead of developing what we think it wants.
The MVP is like a probe that we send into the unknown universe. It relays information that we then interpret to validate our assumptions and move forward in the development of our product with deeper awareness.
This is where the second key (tool), Circular Innovation, becomes important.
Circular Innovation addresses the perspective with which we receive data from our MVP. This is where the Innovator’s Paradox is at play and this is where we typically fail to truly innovate.
As we have seen in previous articles, for true Innovation to become possible, and to resolve the Innovator’s Paradox to give birth to a new paradigm, we have to change the relationship between ourselves as Innovators, what we create (what we usually call the innovation), and the emerging market we are seeking to understand and serve. Otherwise, we will make another assumption and that is that our perspective (which we use to look at the data we receive) is the right one. Doing so means projecting our previous paradigm onto the new, which restricts innovation.
To change our perspective is challenging because it’s a little like how Morpheus first described the Matrix to Neo: “It is a prison that you cannot see, taste, hear, smell or touch. It is a prison for your mind.” A classic example of a company that failed to transform its perspective fast enough is Kodak. In 1975 Kodak had just invented the first digital camera. By 1991 they released the first professional camera and by 1995, one year after Apple, they released their first consumer-level camera. Despite partnering with the biggest IT companies in the world (Microsoft, IBM, etc.), the core premise of Kodak was always that a picture should be stored somewhere for eternity (on the wall, in an album, on a CD, computer, or online) rather than shared in a social context for the sake of the moment. We know the rest of the story: social media platforms such as Facebook and MySpace emerged and disrupted several industries, including photography. Kodak failed to transform its perspective, which quickly resulted in the #1 photographic company in the world going bankrupt.