Innovation means abandoning the old…


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There are a lot of ways to describe innovation – it’s one of the most over-used words used in business today. But what exactly does innovation mean? And what does it depend on for success? Is it genius? Is it inspiration? Or is it something different?

Peter Drucker, the man who changed the face of industrial America in the last half of the 20th century had this to say about innovation.

When the French economist J. B. Say coined the word entrepreneur 200 years ago, he meant it as a manifesto and a declaration of intent: the entrepreneur in his scheme was someone who upsets and disorganizes. Later, Joseph Schumpeter, the only modern economist to take entrepreneurship seriously, described the process as “creative destruction.” To get at the new and better, you have to throw out the old, outworn, obsolete, no longer productive, as well as the mistakes, failure and misdirections of effort of the past. To put it another way, think of the old medical saying: “As long as the patient eliminates there is a chance. But once the bowels and bladder stop, death does not take long.” If organizations cannot get rid of their waste products, they poison themselves. They must organize abandonment, a most difficult thing to do, because most organizations develop a strong attachment to the products they make.

Here;s the takeaway: Innovation has little to do with genius or inspiration and has everything to do with abandoning the old.


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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Lefler
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group -- a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster by providing unique value at the product level: specifically product marketing, pricing, and innovation. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.


  1. Great commentary. Funny thing, I am one of those business consultants who “overuse” the term innovation. The irony is that when you do a Google search with phrases involving “innovation” few people are searching for it. I found that an interesting wake-up call. Lots of people talking innovation, few people thinking innovation.

    I agree with you, innovation is about change and the abandonment of the old.

  2. David,

    While the term ‘innovation’ may be one of the most over-used terms in the business world today, clearly it is not used much in searches. Thanks for the observation.

    I like your “SuRF’ theme for your business and blog. From a transplanted Southern California lad now living in the NYC area, I miss the surfing environment.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


    Patrick Lefler
    The Spruance Group


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