First Mover – Disadvantage

First Mover – Disadvantage! © Roger La Salle 2011

Innovation Minister makes a statement – but is he well informed?

In a recent statement on innovation in Australia Federal Minister Kim Carr commented that in Australia we are convertors, we are not creators.

Subsequently a journalist took that even further stating that if this is our approach to innovation we will never have a Microsoft or a Google.

How wrong and ill informed these people are, though it’s hard to blame the Minister, he simply takes his advice from his staffers and advisers. Perhaps it’s these people that need some advice?

What is research?

The definition of research within pretty much all governments worldwide is “work of a technical nature that entails some risk”. In other word, there is no certainly of achieving the goal.

This definition forms the basis of grants that fund research work where the private sector would be reluctant to invest and it works well to assist in filtering true research from development activities.

Notwithstanding that research entails some risk, it needs to be understood that in terms of innovation or invention the real aim, certainly from a government investment perspective, is to achieve economic returns and growth in the economy. To suggest that research investment is to simply expand the boundaries of science is pure nonsense, unless perhaps for pure academics.

Consequently with this in mind it is useful to explore the real risks in business.

Without any doubt the single biggest risk with any new endeavour is “market risk”. In other words will the idea once developed have a market, if not, unless it’s for purely academic outcomes, why bother?

Reducing Market Risk

Undoubtedly the single and most effective way to reduce market risk is to find something that everybody is buying or doing and do it better. This is what innovation is all about, Changing things to add value. Doing so to items in high demand virtually eliminates market risk.

First Mover Advantage – forget it!

The winners are the followers or the “convertors” as Minister Carr might say.

Neither Microsoft nor Google nor Twitter were firsts, neither was Henry Ford with the motor car or Nokia and then Apple with a better cell phone.

All of these big winners simply rode on the back of burgeoning success stories. If this is what being a convertor is about, let’s embrace that with enthusiasm and the tried and tested method for “conversion”.

This innovation game is simple if we look at it with the right mindset!

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Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to one of the world’s largest consulting firms. www.matrixthinking.com

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