Successful innovators care about solving interesting and important problems — innovation is merely a byproduct. If this distinction seems like hair-splitting, it isn’t. The two focuses create vastly different realities.
Focusing on innovating — as a worthy goal unto itself — tends to be born from self-centered motives: We need to protect ourselves from competitive forces. We need to ensure we have a growth engine. We need to keep up with other companies. To do all these things, we need to innovate. This is often a CYA perspective coming from an executive suite looking to protect its turf. It isn’t inherently bad. It’s just that this focus tends to create a culture where customers are on the sidelines, not in the center of the dialogue.
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