In this blog (and on the podcast), I frequently toss around the term “killer innovation”. Is this different from a normal innovation? Yes. The definition of innovation is:
Innovation is the multi-stage process whereby organizations transform ideas into improved products, service or processes, in order to advance, compete and differentiate themselves successfully in their marketplace.
Innovation by itself is not enough. Everyone is focused on creating innovations. To win, you need to create killer innovations which I define as:
A killer innovation is a significant and highly profitable departure from current offerings or practices that would be difficult to duplicate.
Significant: Must be easily recognized as being a unique idea/approach that is not just an extension to what already exists today. This is a lot harder than it looks. Face it. Any given innovation is built on the ideas and innovations that came before them. Rarely is there something that is new. The key is not to settle for a “me to” idea.
Highly Profitable: There are many ideas, but few that can create entirely new industries/markets with a profit stream that creates growth, jobs economies and wealth. In many cases, you won’t know if the idea will turn into a killer innovation until after its in the market. Take Google. I don’t believe the team truly thought it would grow into the business it has.
Difficult to Duplicate: To create competitive advantage, the innovation must be unique, either with intellectual property or leveraging unique capabilities of the organization, such that others cannot duplicate. If your idea can be easily duplicated, then any advantage your create will be quickly lost. One approach to this is speed of innovation. If you create the core competency to out-pace your competition, the barrier to compete is quite high.
To qualify as a killer innovation, it must satisfy all of the above criteria. So what are some examples of killer innovations?
- Google - changed the business model of advertising
- Amazon - disrupted the economics of selling books
- Intel - wins by its relentless pace of innovations (tick-tock)
- Netflix - changed the way the world watches video content
- W. L. Gore – Created the high performance clothing catagory
What other examples would you give for killer innovations?