When I run innovation sessions for clients, we often have to spend a good bit of time up front talking about the objectives for the sessions – ‘what’ is it that we are trying to innovate. Sangeet Choudary had a good article in Wired earlier this year where he talked about the differences between a “stuff” approach, a “optimization” approach, and a “platform” approach, or as he puts it:
- The “stuff” approach: How can we create more stuff whenever the problem crops up?
- The “optimization” approach: How can we better distribute the stuff already created to minimize waste?
- The “platform” approach: How can we redefine stuff and find new ways of solving the same problem?
He has some great examples of the differences between the three, pointing out that the “platform” approach is fairly new and depends on the technology enabling resources we now have at our disposal. One that everyone can relate to is hotel accommodations – big chains take the “stuff” approach to innovation by continually building out new and different types of properties, companies like Kayak make the finding of accommodations more efficient and accessible – the “optimizing” approach to innovation, and companies like AirBnB redefine the platform through which travelers understand and access accommodations altogether – the platform approach.
Check it out, and the next time someone says “we need to be more innovative around here”, stop and dive into what they mean by innovation. It might lead to some productive insights about how to progress your organization’s strategy and objectives.