It’s just an observation, but technology companies that no longer take risks are companies in great trouble.I’m talking about companies that have become used to a particular “way” of doing things. Where everything eventually becomes routine. New products are predictable. The launches are the same, the engineering details say more about technology obsolescence than they do about customer needs. These companies are in serious danger of extinction.

In the world of technology, the customer has become used to being spoiled. Customers want new, they want different. If they don’t get it from you, there are plenty of alternative options. This market is no place for those who wish to play it safe. You make it big by innovating. And innovating, more often than not, means taking a risk with the company’s money.

But here’s the problem. Very often, managers look at the new, the untried, the dangerous, and the instinct of self-preservation kicks in. Instead, they seek refuge in the safe world of numbers. Well, numbers are important, but they are not everything. Numbers only tell you what has happened in the past, but the past is a poor guide to the future. If you have a product that is on the decline, every promotion and marketing effort under the sun will only provide short-term respite from that long-term downwards trend. The refuge of numbers can be a leaky tent indeed.

That’s where vision and risk-taking come in. The people who impressed me greatly in my last job were those who said “I know this might not work at all. I know this may hurt us. I know I might need to look for a new job if it goes wrong. But, even still, we need to do it”. People like these are vitally important because they have a sense of what the customer might actually want, and they are prepared to stick their head over the parapet. They may often indeed be proven wrong, but that is rarely a reason to think less of them. Without people with that talent for seeking out the different and seeing it through, a company will go nowhere.

Here’s the formula: you’ve got to listen to your customers, feel their pain, then design solutions that will blow their mind. That’s it: apart from the fact that you need to keep doing it for as long as you can.
With innovation, failure is a high probability. Without innovation, failure is a certainty. Innovation gives your company a fighting chance.

Advertisements