EXPERT ADVICE

Age of Abundance Requires Innovation

Recently, we came out of the age of curiosity, entered the age of scarcity and are now sinking in the age of abundance. Everything is here.

Today, all over the world, millions of identical companies are producing millions of identical products and services, and they are pushing identical prices on identical delivery platforms. On top of that, they have identical management and identical corporate behavior all the way from the boardrooms to the cubicles.

Furthermore, there are identical brands, identical names and identical business identities. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. There seems to be a serious lack of originality, substance, courage and leadership. Is this age of abundance going to drown us?

Why We Ended Up Here

Compulsory and forced innovation has limits; there are only so many ways to re-design a car. Moving ashtrays and coffee mug holders every two years is not a new model of a car. Levitation is.

A computer in its current hardware shape is completely outdated. So are thousands of other things.

Our current culture is responsible for this lack of original and creative innovation. Office cubicles have taken away the power of innovation as masses have been conditioned to rigid conformity, visible isolation, linear formations and assembly-line mentality.

Copying has been awarded as a safe play.

Three Solutions

  1. Bring down the wall. Like the Berlin Wall, bring down the cubicle and run around like the Incredible Hulk. Ask your teams to create at least one new idea every day. Discuss it with some serious effort. If not immediately applicable, then file it away for future reference.Ask and ask again and again: Why are your products and services SO similar to your competitors, including the colors, prices and the brand names. Only if asked with persistence and honesty will it create and open doors to innovation. Don’t blame others, just search for innovation.
  2. Find the ropes. Like Spiderman, avoid the elevators and scale the headquarters. Jump and bypass your immediate bosses, as often they are the ones directly responsible for playing it safe by adopting simple rules and for following others with identical goods and services. Go to the top; it is easy, all you need are ropes and good swings. Innovation is the bond and the glue between new products and customers. Good ideas will easily rope in the management. Next time, ask before pushing the elevator button: Is this the only way to go to the top?
  3. Fly over the globe. By air or at least via the Web, circumnavigate the globe — not merely once a year but, rather, daily or even hourly. There is a wild, wild world out there. The ideas and opportunities are endless. Global research is critical today. To stay ahead, lead your teams to sharper innovation. This can be achieved by observing global trends and market shifts. Put your suits away; try a robe for a change.

In conclusion, you might have the best team with the best of innovation, but there are these overly diluted markets out there, glutted with look-alike brands and identical services. The challenge is to fine-tune a marketing process that will not only re-energize the production but produce a shaper edge in design, quality and value, and build a unique iconic identity. When there are too many identical business journals, it seems comic books, after all, are nothing to laugh at.


Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and alsoDomain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global nameidentities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank, aconsultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executiveworkshops on image and name identity issues. Contact him at njabc@njabc.com.


1 Comment

  • You are absolutely correct about the way most large organizations mimic one another. Most large organizations are based around a scarcity mindset. Because of that mindset they try to restrict any change.
    Abundance is when something becomes so easy to obtain the market begins acting like its free. The super productivity we have today is making more and more things essentially abundant, at least for portions of the world.
    Innovation will drive this ever increasing abundance and that is great. As everything becomes less expensive in real terms, not just monetarily innovation will increase.
    We are seeing the increasing innovation in information products because computers as affordable to just about anyone that wants one. And the Internet and sharing technologies make the virtual marketing possible for anyone, to everyone.
    Big organizations are good at one thing. Brute force. That is great for doing very big tasks or making a lot of the same thing very cheaply. The business models that work for large organizations are based on force and large size. Individuals and small groups can use completely different methods.
    The next step is mass customization. When the individual can design and manufacture products on an as needed basis innovation will be universal.
    The big organizations will focus on making the the things that are essentially free and will apply their economies of scale. Innovation will occur at the individual level, as it always has but now with the added ability to disseminate to everyone instantly.
    New business models based on sharing are needed. Ideas like the street performer protocol will allow artists and inventors to be paid and allow the world to share the ideas.
    The other thing that is needed is widespread understanding of Predictive Innovation methods. This will cut the costs of innovation and increase the speed and accuracy of meeting the emerging demands.
    Through my blog, appearances at seminars and on radio programs I’ve been working on promoting both of these but its sometimes an uphill battle since innovation runs counter to the natural sameness built into large organizations.

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