You want to read something really, really dumb?
Imitation Across Industries Is More Efficient and Effective Than Blue-Sky Creativity and Innovation.
This is one of the arguments advanced in a study
of 1,300 publicly traded U.S. companies in fifty-five industries
conducted by Chuck Lucier of Booz Allen Hamilton. Apparently,
Lucier found "that only four broad ideas, copied over and over again in
one sector after another, accounted for 80 percent of the breakout
businesses created between 1965 and 1995: power retailing,
megabranding, focus/simplify/standardize, and the value chain bypass."
Here's my emphatic response: %@$#*&$%#!
The data from Lucier's study may be accurate, but I'm simply not prepared to endorse the conclusion,
and I don't think you should either. Imitation may be the most
sincere form of flattery, but there can be no question that it is also
the surest indicator of a moribund organization, and it is absolutely
shameful to think of it as a legitimate success strategy.
Innovation was such a critical element of America's economic growth and
leadership throughout the 20th Century, and I am hopeful that we will
not surrender our national commitment to innovation going forward just
because we think it might be easier and cheaper to imitate the ideas of
To be honest, I'm a little annoyed that it is even necessary to respond to such a study. It is already quite difficult to catalyze innovation in many organizations, so the last thing we need is to give the naysayers more ammunition. But as daily innovators, we need to inform ourselves about the ideas that are the enemies of innovation. While the language may seem a bit harsh, I really do mean "enemies" because as DIs we are on the front lines of a pitched battle for the soul of our organizations, a protracted struggle against playing it safe, being ordinary and embracing mediocrity. And we must never surrender.