Let's assume I am leading a product development effort of an automobile for the US market and it is 2007. My product assumptions are based on data that is probably 12 to 72 months old, one assumption being that oil prices will remain low within the US market. Finally, let's say I am half-way through the development of the product.
How do I now change course when the oil prices have sky rocketed resulting in the fact that the consumer and large corporate customer base I had planned to sell to have decreased by 75% overnight? See one of my previous blog's showcasing innovation in automotive manufacturing here.
Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma implies that I will do all in my power to keep the project going, to make sure it ends one way or another, and that it looks like a success.
Such is the conundrum of 20th century based product development, which is anchored in detailed analysis of the past, and an inability to comprehend the future. Such product development's focus is efficiency and effectiveness. And there are quite a few examples in the market place in the last ten years to prove this consideration that has led to various companies demise or bankruptcy.
The question is how do I become flexible and agile, where my company can make quick turns ahead of the market, and does not make commitments that cause it to be rigid and unable to respond to the customer need. Further, how do I become such that I show the customer what they need versus the customer asking me?
So, what is the definition of innovation for a global corporation? To solve the Innovator's Dilemma, perhaps Confucious had the answer:
"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."