A short post to share how I think the intersection of Innovation and Entrepreneur. I will focus the post on the best of breed in each category. Discussing poor entrepreneurs or failed innovations is not the intent of this post.
First off, definitions.
I segment Innovation in three parts: Systemic, Systematic and Opportunistic.
- Systemic Innovation: Breakthrough innovation which results in new products, services and markets. Deep innovation that may be either complex or simple technology wise. The most difficult of innovation to achieve. It is unique and happens in homeopathic doses.
- Systematic Innovation: Incremental innovation that seeks to optimize existing products, services, markets and processes over time and one step at a time. Think Japanese Kaizen.
- Opportunistic Innovation: Innovation that exploits regulatory or legal gaps and inefficiencies. This type of innovation usually results in a zero sum game that does not add incremental value in the aggregate.
I segment Entrepreneurs in three parts: Idealist, Optimizer and Me too.
- Idealist Entrepreneur: A visionary with a new and revolutionary idea. Very few entrepreneurs exist, many aspire to be.
- Optimizer Entrepreneur: Someone who applies existing knowledge of a product, service, process or market and comes up with a better way to solve an existing problem. Most entrepreneurs are optimizers. Most Optimizers think their are Idealists. There is nothing wrong in being an Optimizer.
- Me Too Entrepreneurs: Fast followers that copy an Idealist or Optimizer in either same or different geography. Adept at executing faster and sometimes better. Adept at exploiting gaps. I do not mean Me too as a pejorative terms. Some Me too entrepreneurs have been immensely successful.
The above table is an attempt to graphically represent how I gauge the entrepreneurs I come across against the business models they are working on. I always try to ferret out inconsistencies early on. More than not the Innovation flows from the Entrepreneur with causal reinforcing loops. Sometimes the Entrepreneur will tap into the latent Innovation too. Overall I like the dual approach of scrutinizing both the Entrepreneur and the Innovation at hand, i.e. the business model being being built.
How do you view the intersection between Innovation and Entrepreneurs?