Businesses don’t just need disruptive innovation. They crave it. Disruptive innovation allows companies like Google and Amazon to grab customers from established competitors while also fending off challenges. “Innovation” has become a popular buzzword, even if companies have no idea what it really means. The Invisible Advantage: How to Create a Culture of Innovation helps readers make sense of the trendy “innovation” buzzword and integrate the innovation process seamlessly into your business’s everyday work culture.
What is The Invisible Advantage About?
According to The Invisible Advantage, business owners have an unbalanced view of disruptive innovation. Because of the increased media exposure of “the next big thing”, many business owners mistakenly assume that disruptive innovation is an “all-or-nothing” game. The excessive focus is on finding “the next big thing” without worrying about the details. The central idea behind The Invisible Advantage, is that business owners need to stop chasing “the next big thing” and start creating an innovation-supporting culture. Culture, the book says, is the “secret sauce” to a sustainable competitive advantage.
In the book, an innovation-supporting culture involves more than hiring some developers to create an app or product managers to create a new gadget. An innovation-supporting culture involves proactively creating and maintaining a workplace culture where free thinking, an experimental approach to failure, and a willingness to learn is encouraged. Being proactive about the process is the key. Many business owners assume they already have an innovation-supporting culture. The Invisible Advantage urges business owners to test their assumptions so they can address any obstacles or weak spots.
Innovation in The Invisible Advantage is a speed race, nor it is a “set it and forget it” option either. Innovation is a gradual process that adapts to the entire business as it pursues its goals. Innovation, the authors would say, also shouldn’t be locked away in the IT department. Every department, like HR or Finance, should get involved. Why? In order to move forward in a sustainable way, you need all parts of a business working toward a common and well-defined goal. The culture of your entire business affects your business’ ability to innovation. By leveraging that culture, you can consistently build an advantage that competitors don’t see it coming.
Author Soren Kaplan is an expert in digital innovation. He works as a professor at USC School of Business, keynote speaker, guest lecturer and founder of InnovationPoint, LLC. As an expert in innovation, Kaplan has worked with some of the top brands including Disney, Red Bull, and NBC Universal.
What Was Best About The Invisible Advantage?
The Invisible Advantage brings innovation down from its lofty position as industry buzzword to reality. It provides a balanced and more realistic view of what actually drives innovation. As the book reminds readers, it isn’t the technology that brings disruptive innovation. It is the culture. Technology is a part of disruptive innovation, but it isn’t what drives innovation. Soren Kaplan does a good job of showing how readers should capitalize on that fact to gain a decisive advantage in their own way and not as a clone of Apple or Google.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
The Invisible Advantage does an incredible job of helping readers understand the internal changes that are required to not only build an innovative culture but also to maintain it. One way the book accomplishes this is through an innovation portfolio, which helps readers allocate time to specific innovation activities which create a comprehensive, but balanced, approach to innovative activities. While this is extremely helpful, more attention needs to be placed on helping readers integrate these activities into the normal flow of a business. It is much easier for a business like Disney to hold an innovation lab. It’s another issue for a small business to do the same.
Why Read The Invisible Advantage?
The Invisible Advantage offers great insight into the reality of innovation. In trying to help business owners prepare for innovation, many books on the topic get really technical or really abstract. This leaves readers with the “Those are great ideas but how do I actually implement them?” problem. The Invisible Advantage bypasses that problem by providing a down-to-Earth guide to the real driver of innovation, your culture. The book then leads readers through the questions and processes (with examples of successful companies like Adobe, Facebook, and Intuit) that start in the transformation of your planning and work processes so they can help you innovate more consistently.
In short, The Invisible Advantage helps readers integrate innovation into their planning and refine that innovation for a distinct and unique advantage.