In his excellent article titled, An Open Letter to CEOs, Alex Osterwalder, co-founder of @Strategyzer, reported, “A recent McKinsey study shows that 80% of your CEO peers think that their current business model is at risk. The research also shows that a mere 6% of your executives are satisfied with the innovation process in your organization.”

Also read: Five steps to foster innovation in your organization

While these statistics sound foreboding, I believe this anxiety about the future, if not taken to extremes, can be healthy. Andrew Grove’s book title said it all, Only the Paranoid Survive. And the time to be paranoid is before your competitors take market share and before you become obsolete in your product, service delivery, or in your messaging.

When it comes to B2B innovation, private companies have one advantage over public companies – they do not have to report quarterly earnings to maintain or grow the stock price. I have been in the executive meetings where decisions were based more on meeting the expectations of financial analysts and stockholders (e.g. quarterly earnings) than on investing in a better future. This may be a useful strategy for the short-term but not so much for long-term growth and sustainability.

Practice Disruptive Innovation

“Disruptive innovation” is a term coined by Clayton Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Christensen is so well known that In 2011, a poll of thousands of executives, consultants and business school professors, Christensen was named as the most influential business thinker in the world. He describes disruptive innovation as, “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

Also reads: Three principles of successful Frugal Innovation

When many of us think of B2B innovation, we are imagining changes at the upper end of the market, where the product/service demands are greater, the selling process more complex, and the stakes much higher.  However, as the below examples illustrate, disruption can be as basic as offering a simpler option or a change in packaging, pricing, delivery, or implementation. For example, the early providers of cloud-based (SaaS) software offered far fewer product features than established on-premise software vendors, but the delivery, pricing and implementation models were truly revolutionary.


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