Innovating from the inside-out

Why do we spend so much time studying customer needs as the basis for innovation, when its real source is right in front of our eyes? Innovate from the core and you’ll guarantee that your company enjoys a long and happy life.

I recently read an article about Starbucks and its attempt to rejuvenate itself by going back to its essential, idiosyncratic roots, its eclectic, neighborhood gestalt, which eventually spawned its enormous success. Analysts are betting against the company’s ability to make this work. Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s founder and current CEO, says it will. I say it will. Why? Because innovating from the core – going ‘back to the future’ to jump-start innovation is the most natural act in the world.

Ford does it by continuing to ‘democratize the automobile,’ something it’s been good at since 1900.

IBM does it by applying technology solutions to solve the world’s thorniest business – and now societal – problems.

Apple does it by irrepressibly finding new ways to ‘humanize the computer.’

How does your company do it?

Why are we obsessed with promulgating the “new and improved” when the life of our organizations depends on constantly re-interpreting its original vision, or purpose in ways that marry up to how people and markets are changing?

Why do we look outside for answers that are right under our noses?


Flickr photo courtesy of H. Kopp Delaney


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