Innovation vs Iteration

Customers don’t innovate.  They iterate.  So says Steve Jobs.  Who are we to argue?

Innovation is creating something new, something great, something that meets the needs of the market in a way others haven’t yet.  Iteration is a slight improvement over your current state.  Customers generally want something to be a little better (longer battery life, less greasy, less expensive, more lemon scent).  As a whole, they have a hard time explaining the deeper needs and wants that your product or service doesn’t truly fulfill, because there isn’t yet an option that will do the job.  So, too ofter, they settle, and we let them.

But even more importantly, why do we play along?

You are a customer.  You are a consumer of goods, user of services, wanter of shiny things.  You control your own market drivers.  And, many times, you settle for the lesser of many evils.  Or the evil of many lessers, I suppose.

Let’s make today different.  Demand better.  Push the boundaries of “common courtesy” with your suppliers to look for better solutions.  They need you to make themselves better.

And don’t forget to pull your customers into your own innovation sessions.  They need to see the leaps in thinking you are chasing.  They can help you make sure you land in the right place.


  1. Get ready for a daunting battle. I used to be much more willing to take the time to push organizations. After realizing how futile it normally was I have given up for the most part. Most organization have people boxed into tiny areas of responsibility and customer contact people are suppose to get you off the phone (if it is after sales support) or make the sale (if it is pre support). Actually learning from customers and finding and fixing internal issues just don’t matter to most companies. Yeah fine they say they matter but then they setup structure designed only to minimize cost. They make the choice to lose the voice of the customer they just don’t want to accept the responsibility for making the choice.

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