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Introduction to Strategic Innovation: The Definitive Guide to Outlier Strategies

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In this introduction to Strategic Innovation, the authors introduce the concept of strategic innovation and expose what is potentially impactful out there in a number of pioneering companies; many of which you might have never heard of, and yet, they are already making a difference.
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For the Strategists Reading This Book

Johann Sebastian Bach composed The Well-Tempered Clavier for a keyboard instrument, or Clavier, without knowledge of the newly invented piano in Italy.1 Since then, many leading artists have recorded his famous piece on piano. Leonardo da Vinci invented the flying machine long before airplanes ever came to exist. Arpanet—the predecessor to the Internet—came to exist before e-mail, Skype, or social media were even conceived of.

This book is about such inventions, which have great impact before they have actually happened; it is a book about what we call “strategic novelty.” Strategic novelty may seem like a truism—after all, isn’t all strategy novel and shouldn’t all novelty (at least in business management) be strategic? It should. However, all too often it is not. We will be talking about instruments, machines, and Internet applications, but in particular we expose what is potentially impactful out there in a number of pioneering companies; many of which you might have never heard of, and yet, they are already making a difference.

Because these companies are ahead of their time, we term them “outliers,” meaning that they are vanguards, they are off the beaten track. Whether or not they will be trailblazers, e.g., pioneers off-track, isn’t so clear (yet). They may sell and produce novel products and services too, but the most compelling story is about their business models. These vanguard outliers embody strategic novelty as they reimagine and show the ways in which business will be conducted and impacted around the world in years to come.

You may dismiss these outliers as still unproven one offs. They may fail. Yet by the time either these companies or their imitators demonstrate their economic value by conventional metrics, beyond doubt and replicated many times over, their strategic novelty has become mainstream for all to see. They thus no longer provide a potential source of competitive advantage.

The time to learn about them is now. We remember Bach, Leonardo da Vinci, and Tim Berners-Lee for being pioneers, ahead of their time. They were courageous and brilliant in their vision. The rest of us—fast and smart learners—can at least follow the vanguards and outliers working on tomorrow before everyone else does so too.

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