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Two Roads to Innovation

In Steve Lohr’s recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Yin and Yang of Innovation” , he interviews John Kao, an innovation adviser, who uses the examples of Apple and Google to describe different models of innovation. ¬†Google uses data and experimentation, with users as part of the process. Apple takes a top down approach. When Steve Jobs was once asked about what market research Apple used to create such amazing products, his response was “none”. The article also describes how many internet start-ups follow the Google model, taking advantage of the low barriers to enter the marketplace and create products based on “crunching the data”, but often breakthrough ideas come from individuals, not committees. ¬†Ultimately, it seems as though the ideal model would be able to combine the Apple and Google models, but is easier said than done. Does anyone have any thoughts on these or other models of innovation?

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2 Responses to Two Roads to Innovation

  1. Giz Womack says:

    Lynn, agreed! It’s hard to argue with Jobs’ results, but I think many of us like data. I know I’m not a mind reader and I need data to give me a clearer picture, but Jobs had this uncanny ability to see many steps ahead. I would suggest he might have been using data, but it was all in his head in a way that was less perceptable to others. I think Malcolm Gladwell may be talking about something like this in “Blink” when he describes “thin-slicing”, as gauging what’s important from a narrow experience. I think Jobs knew how to “thin-slice”, but I’m baffled how he didn’t let biases that show up elsewhere in his personality get in the way of these decisions.

  2. Lynn says:

    I, personally, tend to fall into the messy Google category. That is why I used qualitative methods in my doctoral research. I love being surrounded by lots of data and looking for patterns to bubble up, working and refining them with each new idea. Despite what my people may think I’m not much of a top down person. Still, it’s hard to argue with Jobs’ results!

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