Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2011, renowned entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen warned that “we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”
At the time, Andreesen pointed to Borders giving way to Amazon, Blockbuster giving way to Netflix, and the general disruption of the telecommunications industry. But even in the few years since, we’ve witnessed the demise of American institutions like Kodak, the transformation of the music industry because of streaming, and how Tesla has challenged century-old car manufacturers.
Indeed, a wealth of new technologies and capabilities have challenged the conventional wisdom about how to approach innovation and product management. Few areas more clearly illustrate this problem than the very graduate program so long relied on as a source of that wisdom for those seeking to build the next great businesses. But alas, Intuit Co-Founder, Scott Cook, recently remarked “When MBAs come to us, we have to fundamentally retrain them—nothing they learned will help them succeed at innovation.”
Something about the traditional approach to innovation and product management is no longer applicable and thereby no longer sustainable. But what exactly about it is outdated, and what is the alternative? What separates companies that continuously innovate successfully from those that struggle to?