Evolution and Innovation

I am reading a book called "Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution" by Geoffrey Moore.   We are discussing the book in our Senge Circle.  The book is quite interesting but a bit tedious when he uses Cisco as an example through out the book.  However he does have a neat idea about how innovation helps a company evolve. 

The book is quite practical in helping one decide what type of business you are, IE Volume Operation or Complex Systems.  The next question is at  what the stage in the life cycle is your product.  Then some ideas about how others have dealt with the issue.  However like most business books he does not mention the failures only the successes.   

The last part of the book deals with Managing Inertia which is very difficult when you are milking a cash cow.  He talks about Cisco who knows the current stage of networks will end soon and the question is what is the next stage.  For Cisco they will have to make a huge gamble.

Some of the examples of managing innovation in mature markets are quite interesting.  Nokia went from a diversified corporation in pulp and paper, rubber and cable to cell phones.  Through the cable side they entered the electronic sector.  From there to mobile phones and the rest is history.   They clearly had to move out of their comfort area into a completely new world and shed the old facilities.

I think he makes it very clear that senior management must go through a process where they can clearly see that change is essential not just a good idea.  He suggest a process for such a transformation but as usual the senior fellow is the key.  I think it must be his number one priority if change is going to happen.  He must not drive the change into the unknown.   

I have found the model of evolution a neat idea.  I think however Moore’s speeches are more entertaining than his book.  He is a great speaker at a conference and really gets the juices flowing.  He certainly does not mind naming names in his speeches.

Anybody else have opinions on the book.  We discuss it next week so I might add more after next week.

  1. Graham Boundy Reply

    I found that Chapter 10 was the best reading because it addressed the issue of how to deal with changing your core business without having to change all the people in the organization to do it.

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