Innovation’s Silver Lining

Innovation consultant Scott D. Anthony, author of a new book called “The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times,” calls the era we’re in “the great disruption” — a period when competitive advantage is temporary. And “no matter how tough the times, innovation happens,” Anthony observed.

Heard an interesting presentation this week by Scott D. Anthony, president of Innosight, the innovation consulting firm cofounded by disruptive innovation expert Clayton Christensen. Anthony, who has a new book out called The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times,  described the era we're in as "the great disruption" -- a period when competitive advantage is temporary and innovation is thus a necessity.

That may sound somewhat daunting, but Anthony also offered some grounds for optimism, such as:

  • "No matter how tough the times, innovation happens," Anthony observed. In fact, innovative upstart companies may find that in tough times their innovations can gain against "teetering giants." (Blogger's note: Admittedly, this may not be grounds for optimism if your company is a "teetering giant.")
  • One of the root causes of struggles in corporations around innovation is about abundance -- in that too much time and too much money make innovation seem difficult. So that means, paradoxically, that bad times can be good for innovation. "The scarcity that we are feeling and the discipline it imposes is actually good news for innovation," Anthony said.
  • Companies can prosper by "loving the low end," in Anthony's words. That could mean innovation that, say, offers something simpler, cheaper, automated, distributed -- or offers something targeted to growing emerging markets, such as India.  (To Anthony's credit, he was practicing what he preached: I heard his presentation via webinar --an inexpensive, distributed-via-Internet alternative to traveling to traditional conference presentations  -- and the webinar was broadcast from Mumbai, India.)