A leading technology company unable to innovate? Yes, Microsoft according to Alice LaPlante, editor of the InformationWeek Daily Newsletter, who suggested this exercise in the May 9, 2006 edition:
“1) List all the things that Microsoft has invented. I think you'll find it hard, even impossible, to think of anything significant. Copied, oh yes. Improved upon, yes (sometimes brilliantly). But actual hard-core innovation? It's just not in Microsoft's DNA. Microsoft's hallmark? An inexorable, glacier-like grinding of competitors to dust. Fierce competitiveness. Also ruthlessness. Not necessarily admirable, but (until now) very very effective.
2) Now think of what Google has invented. Better grab a pencil—you probably won't be able to remember all the things you'll come up with. Those folks in Mountain View can really jam. And although Google’s vulnerabilities have been examined through a variety of microscopes, the company's sheer creativity and passion for innovation—as quirky as they seem sometimes—are never in question.”
Did you think Microsoft was creative and innovative? I did, at least I thought Microsoft was somewhat creative and innovative. She’s right; Microsoft’s brilliance lies in its business tactics, not its products.
Apply this exercise to your key competitors. List all the product and service innovations that were developed at each competitor and then rank them on innovation. Does the reality match the image? If not, how can you take advantage of this disparity?