Michael E. Raynor

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“Innovation” means more than just “new”—it means breaking a constraint, doing what had previously been, at best, only imaginable. Going beyond the current limits of the possible demands a suite of organizational tools that, like many types of medication, can have near-miraculous effects but insidious side effects. Indeed, freedom from strategic, financial, and operational constraints can be crucial to breaking new ground, but it can also make it all but impossible to add value within the boundaries of the current game.
[…] Not everything valuable is an innovation, and not every innovation is valuable. Sometimes—in fact, perhaps quite frequently—it makes more sense to create value by exploiting tradeoffs in pursuit of differentiation. In other circumstances, you can break tradeoffs in pursuit of successful innovation. Knowing which you’re after is crucial, because exploiting and breaking tradeoffs require very different organizational responses. By using the right tools for the right jobs, more organizations might be able to achieve both differentiation and innovation more predictably and successfully.

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