Attention, long post!
Many people are fanatic supporters of “innovation” of any kind while crucifying “copy”. Very often it is a wrong approach.
When we enter into the professional life we are tough that it is good to innovate. “Innovation without limits is good.” Why?
– Because it helps to differentiate versus competitors and gets us competitive advantage.
– It looks good in powerpoint when we present it to our bosses.
– Because everybody loves innovation.
– Because newspapers publish WOW things and innovation is more PR-able.
Innovation is “intellectually challenging”. We like to do things that have not been done before. We like to be inventors. We feel ecstatic when we find new solutions to existing problems, solutions that have not ever been done anywhere in the world. We like to be admired by everybody and to be able to say “I did this:). Therefore, it is a fantastic social pressure for everybody to innovate.
Innovation exist on several plans:
– Innovation in communication (advertising agencies are terrorized not be accused of plagiarism)
– Innovation in business model (new models to get money from people, new needs “defined” and ready to be satisfied)
– Technological innovation, etc..
My opinion: It is wrong to innovate without discrimination, only for the sake of innovation!
1. Most innovations do not bring efficiency. For example, from 100% of patented inventions, only 1% is put into practice. For the rest of 99% the money are spent in vane (but u get the pride of being an inventor / innovator:))
2. Maybe it’s a reason why your innovation isn’t already on the market.
a. One reason may be that nobody thought of it – this is a happy case. What makes you be the first. And could that if u patented it and put into practice, even win millions of dollars. The chances are microscopic. Congratulations if you make it!
b. The other reason would be that someone else has thought of it, but they decided not to put in practice. Maybe is not making money. Maybe is not make sense. Maybe the innovation has a drawback that you, in the evrika post-euphoria, u do not see it…
Worldwide you have many competitors stronger then you. GUARANTEED they allocate much more money than you for research, they allocate people much smarter then u and much better paid than you can hire. If these mega competitors haven’t implemented that innovation, perhaps they had a very good reason. Maybe it does not work.
Maybe they tested it and decided is not worthing. In any case, if the market research that you did it not find anything, ask yourself if the innovation is good or not.
The problem is that the innovators / inventors people are very vain. They think they are the center of universe. And the vast majority fall in love by their own idea and are sure that it’s gonna be a mega hit. (I make part of them). Some share the “innovation” with their friends. Innovators have the normal tendency to disregard the opinion of others. Because they know better. They get to work implementing the innovation, spend time and money and end up nowhere. They find apologies (maybe even open your eyes and find the real reasons for failure).
If the innovator had watched the major industry players, he would had some free know-how. Up to a certain point it may be arrogance that you think you are smarter than the big players.
So the chances of innovation success are much lower than by copying success. Demonstrated statistically. (Is good that are still some idealists that innovate, so the mankind move forward. If everybody would copy / would inspire, where would we go:)).
Then, for the small entrepreneur who wants to make some money, what to do? To innovate or to copy? Statistically, if the copies are more chances of success. Sell something that already exists and is proven to work. There is a market for it, you must learn on potential customers. They already know what are they doing, how they pay, where to go find.
Obviously, it can be innovative (in communication), to differentiate in terms of marketing from its direct competitors. But the bulk of business is already standardized.
In general, an entrepreneur must take innovation/copying decision based on what he wants: fame or fortune.
Innovators receive fame (in general). The copyists receive money.
Statistically speaking, all big companies known globally were not first, they were not innovators. They were “Fast followers”. They let others spent their resources, making attempt after attempt to obtain the right innovation. And when they had a good product, fast followers replicated it better and cheaper. And the money saved from the invention process they will spent on marketing
Google – he was not the first. Do u remember?: Lycos, Altavista, Dogpile, Yahoo …
IE – is now the biggest browser. Who remembers netscape, or rather the mosaic?
All cars have airbags. Only one innovate airbags, the rest are copies. Do you say: I don’t want a car that copied the idea of airbags, I will only buy the original. Electronics, too. Drugs: are dozens of types of aspirin, but each is named differently. The world we live in is 99% + based on the original copy innovations. And it’s ok, because we are happy when you buy the lowest price.
I personally had a lot of innovative projects, “intellectually challenging” that have failed, that I lost time and money. Because I was convinced that success only stay in innovation. Which is invalidated by the entire global economy. Always put in balance between the two innovation – copy.
Therefore, now when someone comes to me with a business proposal and said that “This idea has never been done anywhere in the world”, I ask: “Why?”