Richard Foster's Book, Innovation: The Attackers Advantage

1453 words - 6 pages

Innovation, the ability to change and take risk; is a key attribute to success. No company has become successful by keeping their old ways, or staying to the “tried and true” (Foster, 1986). No successful business can stay successful regardless of how much money or technology they have, if they do not know how to keep evolving with time. Success isn’t built off one tool; it is built off a variety of tools. This book taught me that one must constantly adapt to the world around you, because it won’t slow down. We live in an ever-changing world. One must be willing and able to change. This book teaches how to be “unsafe” in the world of business, never stick with one way, never rely on one source of success; be ready to change it and find something better.
Business is not all about strictness and order. Sometimes one has to be creative and switch things up. For instance, after 87 years of going toe-to- toe, Coke finally altered its formula to match Pepsi, and that action alone is why Coke is one of the biggest soft drink companies in the world (Foster, 1986). One may be then, know what the customer wants, but the truth is not all customers know what they want. Never base an entire operation on what the customer wants. For example, when there were silent movies people wanted silent movies until “talkies” came (Foster, 1986). In addition the book talks about discontinuities. A discontinuity is a piece of technology that has reached its limits and then becomes obsolete. In our day of age, discontinuities are happening with increasing speed. Companies must be able to adapt.
Richard Foster is the author of Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage, which he published in 1986. He is the director of McKinsey & Company, a management-consulting firm. He has helped some of the most successful companies in the world. He earned his B.A., M.A., and a Ph.D. degree in engineering from Yale University. He is also an adviser for Industrial Research Institute and serves on the board of Oak Ridge National Laboratories. In this book, the biggest thing Richard Foster was trying to impress upon us is whether one is an attacker or defender, never become complacent.
Key Issues/Lessons
One of the key lessons in this book is to learn how to let go. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is keeping hold of old technology, being unwilling to let go or too afraid to let go. CEOs must be able to instantly abandon what made them successful and move on. There will always be discontinuities. This book gives a good example using the tire industry. Cotton was the first tire cord fiber, eventually something better came along, rayon. Rayon was stronger than cotton and it did not rot. However, rayon eventually became discontinued. Rayon was replaced by nylon. Du pont along with another tire manufacturing company named Celanese realized this. However, instead of investing in the new material polyester, Du Pont used a dual development putting most of its money in the...

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