The Innovator’s Paradox

Recognize your company?

See if this reminds you of anything…

Business X continues to throw off strong cash flow, despite daily proclamations from pundits within, and without the industry, of its imminent demise — proclamations that have been offered widely, and loudly, for years.

Business X was late in recognizing potential threats to its core business, but finally did, and made some investments in what it saw as “the future” of its growth at the start of the new millenium.

Unfortunately, those investments didn’t really lead to strong growth, and those businesses remained tiny parts of the overall revenue for Business X.

And, also unfortunately, Business X really hasn’t come up with a Plan B, an innovation so dramatic that it has the potential to be a strong growth platform for years to come.

Figured out what Business X is yet?

Bsuiness X is actually Microsoft.

Now why would you have thought I was talking about Radio?

Just because HD Radio’s been about as profitable as the Zune?

Check this out…


It’s know as “The Innovator’s Paradox” and it perfectly describes Radio in 2011.

When you don’t need the growth, you act in ways that lead to you not getting the growth you will need. And when you do need the growth, you can’t act in ways that deliver it.” *

Radio should have been investing in itself — talent, new formats, cool new mobile listening devices, improving copy writing and production for commercials, developing metrics to measure advertising results, and on and on — since the 70s. It was throwing off 40-50% profits year after year.

We know what happened instead.

So, if you run a radio company, and hope to still be running a radio company in 20 years, where do you think your group is on that curve??




*Harvard Business Review: The Innovator’s Paradox