How Would You Beat?

How Would You Beat Your Innovation Strategy Using Jobs-to-be-Done?

September 21, 2022 thrv Season 2 Episode 13
How Would You Beat?
How Would You Beat Your Innovation Strategy Using Jobs-to-be-Done?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we will look at innovation strategies. What is an innovation strategy? Do you need one? And if so, what type? Can an innovation strategy help you beat your competition and win in your market? There are different types of innovation strategies that have been called things like routine innovation, disruptive innovation, radical architectural or platform, business model innovation, interface innovation. So what are the key innovation strategies to focus on? And what should executive teams look for in an innovation strategy?

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Key moments from today's topic on how you would beat Innovation Strategy:

00:00 Intro to the concept of an innovation strategy 
03:04 The connection between innovation strategy and marketing
06:13 Can your existing product generate revenue without being innovative?
10:04 How do you differentiate from what's in your market using innovation strategy. Zune vs iPod example
13:41 Pitfalls of equating new technology with innovation
22:01 What does a successful innovation lab look like?

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Follow Jared Ranere on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaredran

Jared Ranere:

Welcome back to How would you be where we discuss how you can use jobs to be done innovation methods to beat your competition? Remember to subscribe and like this podcast. In this episode, we will look at innovation strategies. What is an innovation strategy? Do you need one? And if so, what type? Can an innovation strategy help you beat your competition and win in your market? There are different types of innovation strategies that have been called things like routine innovation, disruptive innovation, radical architectural or platform, business model innovation, interface innovation. So what are the key innovation strategies to focus on? And what should executive teams look for in an innovation strategy? So Jay, to start off, how would you define an innovation strategy?

Jay Haynes:

Yeah, it's a great question. And I think the the way to start looking at innovation strategy is to ask, Why do you want an innovation strategy? What is the goal that you're trying to achieve with an innovation strategy, and at the end of the day, all innovation is directed at your customer in order to create equity value for your company. And, and that path of creating equity value is also the way that you provide value to all of your stakeholders, not just your, your equity investors, but you know, the communities you work in the employees of the company, obviously, the managers and executives. And fundamentally, at the end of the day, in a way innovation strategy might be renamed customer strategy. Because if your innovation is not focused on your customer, it's unlikely to succeed, whether it's you know, business model, or disruptive or architectural, or these different types of innovation strategies. So, and I think it's a good idea to bucket innovation strategy into some different categories. So people have heard of disruptive innovation disruption was famous made famous by Clay Christensen. And that's a specific type of phenomenon in a market. So you, your company may or may not need a disruptive strategy. If if you are under the threat of disruption, that is because famously, you're starting to over serve the market. And you are ignoring the lower end of the market, and companies who are customers who are not even buying a product in the market. So we can talk a bit more about what disruption actually is. But most other types of innovation are really focused on your customer and accelerating your growth. So at the end of the day, you need it in a strategy, innovation strategy to work to Intel, you how much money should you invest in things that your company is going to do for your customers in order to generate more revenue and profitability? That really is at the end of the day, at the essence of innovation strategy? Yeah. And

Jared Ranere:

of course, you can grow your revenue by improving your marketing and sales for your existing product. And and I don't think we would call that an innovation strategy, right? How will you, you know, improve your your funnel metrics and your messaging and your sales operations, that's not really your innovation strategy, the innovation strategy comes into play, when you need additional growth, that you cannot get out of your existing product. And that might be because you already have leading share in that market for that product. And you need to get into a different market, satisfy needs differently, get more of the job done in our parlance in order to generate more growth, or it could be your competitors are starting to deliver more value to customers than your current product does. And you have to compete or just seed the seed the market to your competitors. And this is really when you're where your innovation comes in. Right? It's the new product development that you'll generate, to drive growth through product development, as opposed to optimizing marketing and sales.

Jay Haynes:

Yeah, that's right. Although I would say it a little bit differently, that if you're marketing, if you're improving your marketing and sales today, that's because you have it, you had an innovation strategy, meaning you have a current product in the market. And just to cut right to the chase. What an innovation strategy is, is it's figuring out which customer you're going to create value for, as we always define it the job beneficiary what is the job they're trying to achieve, and which unmet needs are you going to focus on? So that's the essence of a strategy is prioritizing what you're going to focus on to deliver solutions into the market that help the customer get the job done better. So in that case, when you're optimizing your sales and marketing for your existing product today You are doing that for an innovation strategy that isn't driving new growth. But that was how you got to the point today. So let's say you're working in a company that's got 100 million in revenue, or 100 million p&l that you're responsible for that 100 million of revenue is being generated by the current product today. And what that means, even if companies are not fully aware of it, it means that customers are hiring that product to get some job done. Now, that also might mean you might not know all of the needs that your product is satisfying, which is, which is very, very common, you know, you build a product, and customers are using it for a different thing that you built it for. Right? And, and so the I think you're right, in that sense. So you can still use the techniques around innovation strategy for your sales and marketing optimization today. But then you are right, if you're going to invest in new product development, you're going to either build new features on your existing product, or you're going to build an entirely new product or service, then you really do need to have a good innovation strategy that tells you what your risk level is in that market.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah. And I think you you raise an interesting question, which is, can your existing product generate revenue without being innovative? So for example, could you go to market satisfying the same needs, and as your competitors, with a relatively similar product, but do something else better? You have better marketing messaging, a better way of contacting customers better sales channels, a bigger marketing budget? Could you do that and generate enough revenue to run a business and grow at some reasonable rate?

Jay Haynes:

Yes, the answer is yes. And, and we do see this a lot. A good example of this is in b2b SaaS software today, companies love to market, their machine learning and AI, you know, another story in the, you know, front pages of the New York Times on AI and how advanced it's getting. So everybody's on the AI bandwagon, you know, which is includes machine learning. So we see this a lot companies are touting we have AI, you don't you want to buy our incredible AI or machine learning. Of course, the problem with that is no one wants AI, no one wants, machine learning what they want is to get a job done. And AI machine learning can be an incredible way to get that job done faster and more accurately than competitors. So if you just change your marketing, from focused on AI and machine learning, you are way more likely to generate new leads that now understand that you're solving their problem. And what is that problem, the problem isn't they're not looking for AI, they're looking for a solution to the job, then that's going to generate more leads, reduce your cost per lead, get you qualified leads, and then enable your Salesforce to sell more of your AI powered whatever it is. Because your Salesforce isn't selling AI they're selling, we help you get the job done faster and more accurately.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah. So that's interesting, right? So that's a scenario where you can drive growth, without necessarily an innovation strategy, you're driving growth with a marketing strategy that's better focused on customer needs. And that's what also imagine, you know, you do this, when you start your company, right? You go out there and you say, Oh, gee, company A has a pretty good product, and they're terrible at marketing it, we can create the same product marketed a lot better and, and generate growth and potentially beat them and then later think about, you know, how do we make a better product, but the you have to be very convinced that the marketing is very bad for company A. So you know, a classic example of this is Microsoft launching the Zune, which we've talked about, probably a million times in this podcast. But that was an undifferentiated product, right? They went out there and they said, Let's build up an mp3 player. That's a lot like the iPod. And, you know, it's nice because it's compatible with Windows machines, which were in a lot of customers hands. But once the iPod made iTunes available on Windows, that was not a differentiator anymore. And they spent a lot of money on marketing thinking that they could, you know, gain share with that, and they famously didn't, they failed. Because Because Apple was good at marketing to the unmet needs, that their product satisfied and differentiate different marketing was not enough to beat them. So you have to be really clear eyed in your strategy definition of how you're going to grow. You know, if we're, if our products not going to be better we our marketing has to be a whole lot better. Yeah. And that's and it's a high risk way to go.

Jay Haynes:

Yeah. And the you're right, because innovation strategy is how do you differentiate from what's in the market currently, right. And using an innovation strategy for new product development is essential, because you have to figure out is there even a market growth opportunity for the innovation you're going to deliver? So and what we do know as well is that all technologies and solutions are changing all the time. So if you are launching a new product, or even new features on your existing product without an explicit innovation strategy that your product marketing and sales teams and executives all agree on to which is an incredibly fundamental part of this is you should have explicit agreement on the innovation strategy. If you don't do that, then you are likely to miss what's already happening in the market with someone else who's not yet on the scene. So in the Zune example, they're launching the the Zune to compete with the iPod. Meanwhile, already, because of a number of different reasons, the technology was changing the cost to stream something over cellular networks. And obviously, Wi Fi was dropping amazingly fast. Another competitor called Pandora came along and said, We're gonna get this job done in a very different way. And we're going to satisfy unmet needs in the job of creating a major mood with music in that example. And so not only was it going to be unsuccessful for Microsoft to launch this undifferentiated product, that I think they ended up spending a billion dollars on a minute enormous amount of money. And, and not only was it undifferentiated, but they're missing the fact that even the iPod is going away, because you there's a new platform are emerging. And that's where innovation strategies can be incredibly important. If you're looking at a new platform, if you're saying is this the time to keep going with our existing platform. And the other examples we use all the time, of course, like Kodak, and Blackberry, right, you know, Kodak at some point needed to recognize that they were not going to be selling film anymore, they needed a new platform. And this is true, even if CRM software, right, Siebel needed to recognize, hey, we should move to a SASS platform, because in that case, the innovation strategy was initially around consumption jobs. So the jobs of interfacing with an application installing the application, you know, learning to use it, maintaining it, that all went away with SAS applications in that's that's a great innovation strategy. If the if the consumption jobs are so hard to get done. And in that case, you know, stalling CRM software could take years and literally 10s of millions of dollars of IT consultants trying to set it all up correctly. So that's, that's crucial to think about going forward is do you have an explicit strategy, and the key no matter what you're doing, whether it's routine, disruptive radical, architectural platform, business model interface innovation, if you your innovation strategy should be from the customer back to the company. In other words, the the value you're going to create at the end of the day is for the customer. That is what all innovation is about. And yeah, you don't have an explicit definition of that. It's a problem.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah. And I think that one of the sort of pitfalls there is you equate new technology with innovation. So you say, Well, you know, our product has this new technology, and it's so must inherently be better. And it's an innovation because we incorporated AI because we use the blockchain because of whatever your name your new technology. But I think the trick of having a solid at risk mitigated innovation strategy, is that it's not just a new technology, it's what are you going to do with it? What problems are you going to solve for customers? So if you're just going out there, if you're if you have an innovation lab, say, and they're just tinkering with new technologies, they're their mission is to explore all the core technologies that are out there. And they don't have a sense of what problems they should be trying to solve. There's not going to be much strategy there, there's going to be a lot of you know, throwing technological spaghetti at the wall and seeing if it sticks. And that's going to be could be very expensive to try to generate growth out of. So So I think that that's a key important thing is that just a new technology does not make innovation, you have to clearly understand who you're building for and what is the problem you're trying to solve for them. What is the unmet need in the job?

Jay Haynes:

Yeah, and In the meeting, let me I can give an example of where the technology actually went backward. So trying to use it technology to innovate actually got the job done worse. So let's first reiterate of what the process of creating an innovation strategy looks like it is starts with the customer under understanding what job they're trying to get done, what problem they need to solve, and being very detailed about that, what are all the steps and needs in the job, then figuring out where there's a group of underserved customers who are still screaming for a new solution, because getting the job done for them is a serious headache. It's like migraine level headache. And that gets into how you segment customers. And then you want to know, what are people willing to pay to get the job done? Is the market big enough is that segment that with a huge pain, going to be large enough for you to solve that problem, and then generate revenue and profitability. So all that upfront work is incredibly important. And I can give you an example of where technology led innovation strategies fail. Were a company that built construction software for you know, major, major construction projects, you know, buildings and skyscrapers and stuff. They, they, the iPad, tablets came out, so they said, Oh, this is gonna be great, we're gonna create a tablet where someone on the construction side can have access to all the plans. So they were competing, the platform they were competing with was literally giant blueprints on a table at a construction site. That's how people, you know, if you're there, and you're a contractor, you're going up to, you know, page number B 47. And, you know, looking at whatever. So they built this app. And the reason it didn't succeed is multiple reasons. One in iPad on a construction site, you know, it's glass, right? It's free can break pretty easily. Second, you have to power it up, you have to make sure it's got a connection to the Internet, you've got to make sure that it's got enough power, then you have to go into the app and figure out where this thing is, it's way smaller than a giant construction printout of blueprints. So inherently, it's not as spacious and easy to read. So if you had measured as we, we always talked about speed and accuracy of getting that job done. With the tablet with new technology versus a pen and paper and a blueprint. It's way slower. So you could have decided that innovation strategy. First and foremost, because you could have figured out what it was that they were struggling with, on the construction site. And if there were an opportunity, you would laser focus on what that thing is. That is what a strategy in any strategy and innovation strategy is deciding where to focus your innovation efforts. And because you have the customers needs, you have a prioritized list of needs, you can then test your ideas and iterate very quickly. Without having to build an invest at the capital that requires to build that feature and get into market and then you lose that capital, you generate no revenue, but you invest it all in all the cost. That's what destroys companies. Yeah. And careers.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah, and I think that we've gone through a period of, you know, major technological revolutions, you know, we've had the internet, then you've had mobile devices. Now we're entering a period of, you know, maybe it's AI, maybe it's blockchain, maybe it's VR AR, and the the move for a while the growth move has been well digitized, put it on the internet, and it's probably going to be a lot better for customers, put on a mobile device, and it's probably going to be a lot better for customers. And it creates almost complacency. Because it's like, because we can overlook the specific unmet needs that the internet is helping you satisfy by doing that. But now, everything is on the internet. And you know, a lot of things are on mobile devices already. So you can't just do that. You have to think through what am I applying the technology to what problem am I trying to solve? And think through, you know, what is the baseline of how people are trying to solve that problem today? And is this development that we're going to make better? Is it faster and more accurate than what that baseline is? Because without that work, now, you're it's very hard to be competitors, because everybody's already made that platform change. So an AI is so broad, that if you don't put the work in to understand the specific problems you're going to solve with AI, just like plopping an AI from toolset from Azure or or Google Cloud Platform doesn't automatically make your application better. You have to know exactly what you're going to do with it and how you're going to use it and what the problem is you're going to try to solve with it.

Jay Haynes:

Yeah, and that's why I think it's key that any Vation strategy is defined as, essentially, what are you going to do for your customer? It's not how you're going to do it. It's what and why are they going to value it? And that is the key to strategy because strategy, the name strategy even comes from, you know, obviously competition in warfare. And so it means inherently, how are you different? How are you going to win? A strategy in a chess game isn't how you're going to play? It's how are you going to win? So it's so crucial to use your customer as the guiding light to create an innovation strategy? It is, who are the who is the customer? How are you defining the job beneficiary and jumps in on, you know, terminology? And what is it that they need to do independent of any product or service? That's the job that they need to get done the goal that they need to achieve? And then which of in achieving that goal, which parts are you going to focus on? Yeah. And, you know, you can also decide using the customer's job and your innovation strategy. Is it time for a new platform? Or should we keep building on the existing platforms? So good example this year, we already mentioned Zune, obviously. But Kodak, you know, film, at some point, they need to recognize they weren't in the film market, they were in the share memories market and the the internet was emerging as a way for people to share memories. If you think about it, really, Kodak missed the opportunity to become Facebook, right? Yeah. So that's a Kodak at its max was worth $30 billion dollars, Facebook, I think is approach to half trillion dollar valuation. So that's, that's an enormous market opportunity missed because they had the wrong innovation strategy. They kept trying to make film better when they should have been focused on the job of sharing memories.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah, it's an interesting example. And it makes me think about innovation labs and research labs, where they're, you know, researching core technologies. I think part of this Kodak story, and this should be verified, if you're listening to me talk right now, is that they knew about digital photography, and they had developed products that could do it, but they didn't apply it to the market in the right way. They didn't bring it to market in the successful fashion. And if you think about, you know, Xerox PARC, with, you know, all the resources they allocated to developing new technologies. And then Steve Jobs, you know, famously goes to Xerox PARC and see somebody using a graphical user interface with a mouse and takes that and applies it to the Mac. And suddenly Apple is the most valuable company in the world, not suddenly over the course of a long period of time, but today they are. And so it raises the question of what what does a successful innovation lab look like? Should companies even have them at all? Or should innovation be part of the core product culture? And what a successful innovation labs look like? Why do some innovation labs fail?

Jay Haynes:

Yeah, so that's a great question. And it all comes down to you know, did they have the right innovation strategy? So that's why this discussion is so important. And I think you're right about Kodak. If I remember correctly, they actually at one point had the largest collection of patents around digital imaging. So and in fact, I think that's how they went into bankruptcy. I think they got sold by whoever bankruptcy courts bought into their, their IP portfolio got bought, it was the only asset left, I think. So we can check on that. But, but the generally, I think you are correct. So they needed a lab, they needed somebody, to say we need a team that is thinking differently. And Steve Jobs is famous word about what we're doing for our customers. And it was not hard to see. Right, if you knew that the customers job was to share memories, you could analyze a film camera, and the time it takes to share those memories, and how limited it is to share and distribute those photographs. Because you know, you had to make prints to send the grandma as well as prints to send to your parents and you know, those those that's just very time consuming, and expensive. And with digital images. Obviously, the cost is effectively zero. So the fact that they they knew about the technology, but couldn't figure out the market opportunity is the reason that an innovation strategy is so critical. And as you're saying you should likely put that in an innovation lab that is protected from the film antibodies that are going to just focus on the next quarterly results of selling film. You because they need the freedom to say, we are going to think about this from our customers perspective, what is best for our customers. And in that case, of course, they're targeting, you know, the largest market in the world, every human on the planet, you know, wants to share memories with friends and family. So, you know, they don't have a market sizing problem. But what I would say is, this is where you get to the most senior executives in the boards who are responsible for allocating capital to an innovation strategy. And this is what's really hard to do. Because I'm sure there were discussions at Kodak, where someone says, We need to start getting into the digital image market, and someone said, Are you kidding me? We make, you know, X amount per print and photograph of the world, we're going to totally destroy our market for print. Right? So how are you going to do that, and there are very, very few companies that have the emotional fortitude to be able to create an innovation strategy that says we are going to destroy our existing very profitable business. Apple, of course, is famously one of them. They, the iPod was 50% of their revenue, as we've discussed before, and they launched an iPod killer, the iPhone before anybody else could, because they they knew that, again, what customers want is a single platform to get jobs done. And you know, a phone, you're not going to carry multiple phones or multiple devices, hopefully. Yeah. So it's incredibly important.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah. And I think we, we see a lot of innovation labs at big companies, you know, that we have innovation labs coming to us and saying, you know, we're trying to figure this out, do you have advice, etc. And so it's almost like the message has been received that you need to take a group of people and quarter them off in some way and make sure they're not held back by the traditional processes of the business and how that business generates profit. And but I think the thing that often gets missed is it's, it's don't cordon them off to dabble in technologies, it's cordon them off to think intensively about some set of customer problems behind what you know, there's a market. And then that will cause them to explore technologies and different products and different ways of satisfying the needs and the company traditionally does. But without that focus of what needs should they be targeting, then you can up and end up in a situation very easily with a lot of understanding of new technologies, and even development of new technologies, without an application, without a way to say here's how we're going to bring this to market and without a way of generating revenue out of that investment.

Jay Haynes:

Yeah, and I think that's exactly right. Because we innovation labs, companies, start them and use them to essentially try and try and de risk their innovation efforts. And, you know, another word for an innovation lab is a venture portfolio. Right? So you're either have an innovation lab inside in your corporate world, because you're going to make a lot of small bets on things. And maybe one of them is a very big success. You know, if you're in the venture world, you've got a portfolio investments, you know, the vast majority are probably not going to even return the capital, you invest in a bunch, you're gonna lose all their money. So you're, you're mitigating risk across this portfolio. But as you as you were saying, the critical risk mitigation, if you're in an innovation lab, on your way to developing an innovation strategy isn't building new technology. It isn't. That is a way to test out if it's going to work, which means that you can build something and throw it out in the market and see if people adopt it. And if it's an ad, if it's growing like the next Twitter or Facebook, okay, great, really successful, but that almost never happens. People are kind of looking for that it's exactly a casino is better metaphor than an investment. Because an investment has a series of risk mitigation steps that you can take before you actually build the technology or build the product or the feature to say, Okay, we've de risk this to the point that customers are going to buy this. So let's now build it. Right. And I think that's really the key to innovation strategies are risk mitigation. You know, we've said that we say this multiple times, but you should not think of yourself as a swashbuckling risk taker, taking risk is incredibly stupid. It is you want to be a risk. mitigator it's an unfortunate part of our culture, that everybody's like, entrepreneurs are such big risk takers. The best ones are risk mitigators. So we should have this, you know, we can change that mean,

Jared Ranere:

hopefully, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I think that one of the interesting things about innovation labs is, you know, you, as you said, you identify that customers might buy this, but it's a real important question of which customers might buy this and are they that your existing customers or are they a new segment that you don't currently serve, and you have to serve them with a different pricing model a different go to market strategy, maybe it's not a sales team. or maybe it's a sales team that's incentivized in a different way. And what I've seen in innovation labs is that the program for getting absorbed back into the company is set ahead of time. So it's kind of like, oh, you identify a customer problem, you come up with an idea. And then you test that idea with an MVP. And then the next thing that will happen is we absorbed that back into the mothership. And, but that you can't decide that until you know what your strategy is, it could be that it should never get absorbed into the mothership. And you should hire a separate marketing and sales team to target a different customer in a different way, with a completely different p&l. Because the business is going to operate differently. And if you try to get your existing marketing and sales team to sell it, it's not interesting to them, because they'll get better comp, from selling the existing products at a different price point, as bid. This is especially true for disruptive strategy when you're trying to go into a low cost market that you don't currently play in. So I think when you're setting up an innovation lab, that decision point of how should we bring this to market should not automatically include go back into the main corporate structure?

Jay Haynes:

Yep. Yeah, absolutely. And there's some good examples of that, where companies had to change because the market moved to the job beneficiary. So this is why we say the innovation strategy has to be focused on the right customer and the job beneficiary. So nest is a great example, the thermostat market we've talked about this before, was entirely HVAC contractors selling to homeowners. Now, the job there, the problem you're trying to solve as a homeowner is to achieve comfort in your home. That is, that's why the market exists because the job beneficiary is a homeowner. And the job is to achieve comfort. The market does not exist because HVAC contractors are selling thermostats, that's a bad way to look at the market. And yet, that's how the entire industry was mostly functioning. Because you you had a problem with your HVAC, or you got new unit installed, and they would attach a horrible ugly, the hard to use thermostat to your house. So no one went out and bought a thermostat. Nest changed all of that, because they focused on the job beneficiary again, and innovation strategy is focusing on the job beneficiary. In this case, homeowners in innovation strategy decides what job you're going to focus on, they were focused on achieving comfort in your home. And you need to focus on customer needs unmet customer needs as part of your innovation strategy. Those three things the job beneficiary, the customer, the job and the unmet needs, that's critical. And nest clearly found a segment of customers who had unmet needs with their thermostat, because everybody hated their thermostat. And most importantly, the most amazing thing about that story is, you could tell that that market was big and advanced, because if you size that market based on the thermostat, the people paying $30, for a thermostat, you know, is not a very big market is probably $600 million a year or something. But nests charge $250 For thermostat almost 10 times the average price of a thermostat. So how could they do that? Well, because they were focused on the job of the job beneficiary, and they changed the market. So everybody had to change their business model to play catch up to nest because now it was a consumer electronics market, not a market with a channel through HVAC contractors. And that, that you can play that out in every market, they will everything will move to the job beneficiary because that's why the market exists.

Jared Ranere:

Yeah, I think that's a great example to end on where you understand the job beneficiary you understand the true willingness to pay. Not all innovation is a disruptive innovation that disrupted age back contractors, but they did at a higher price point, which is not a classic way to have a disruptive innovation. It's not low cost. It's not going after low cost market. So I think it's a great example to end on. So yeah,

Jay Haynes:

go for Yeah, I definitely agree your unmet needs. Yeah, innovation strategy, very simple, who's your customer, what job they need to get done, what unmet needs you're gonna focus on that's the way to build a successful innovation strategy. So thanks for listening. Remember to subscribe and like this podcast. And if you want to learn more about jobs that you've done innovation methods and how we look at innovation strategies, contact us@thrv.com

Intro to the concept of an innovation strategy
The connection between innovation strategy and marketing
Can your existing product generate revenue without being innovative?
How do you differentiate from what's in your market using innovation strategy. Zune vs iPod example
Pitfalls of equating new technology with innovation
What does a successful innovation lab look like?