Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation Hardcover – March 1, 2012
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Essential reading for innovators."
"A clear analysis of numerous scenarios, both failures and successes, with a depth rarely found in pragmatically-tinged books. Anyone involved in moving a product from conception to adoption will not want to let this book pass them by."
"The Wide Lens opens the readers' eyes to the bigger picture and expands the mind to the possible pitfalls that have come to stand in
the way of the success of many innovative products and services....Don't miss out on your opportunity to see your innovation go from conception to success by engaging a wider lens."
—Jack Covert Selects, 800ceoread
"Ron Adner is a breakthrough thinker. He zooms out to see more clearly how -- and why -- some innovations take hold, and others do not. Adner's core insight is profound, that an innovation's success depends on its place in an entire ecosystem, and his concepts can help people turn inspired creativity into practical impact and market success. A significant contribution."
—Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and co-author of Great by Choice
"This is a path-breaking perspective on innovation. Adner's tools guide you to ask the right questions to protect you from making mistakes that condemn so many innovations to failure."
—Clayton Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor, Harvard Business School, author of The Innovator's Dilemma
"The Wide Lens will change the way you think about innovation. Adner shows why and how you must adapt your approach to innovation in today's interdependent world. This is highly useful reading for anyone whose success depends on collaboration."
—John Donahoe, President and CEO, eBay, former CEO, Bain & Company
"The Wide Lens is an important new book on innovation. Ron correctly identifies the important challenge of recognizing market ecosystem and competitive strategies. His framework for innovation is contemporary, teachable and practical. Growth is today's big challenge. The Wide Lens will help big and small companies grow faster."
—Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO, General Electric Corporation
"Engaging, insightful, and immensely practical. Success in today's economy requires mastery of your innovation ecosystems, and The Wide Lens is the definitive guidebook to this new landscape. Adner's innovative tools and insights will make your strategy more robust and your organization more effective."
—Kevin Sharer, Chairman and CEO, Amgen
"What is the big picture?' This is a question that haunts every business strategist --- reflecting the fear that our analysis of the landscape has missed the larger threats or opportunities in front of us. Based on years of research and teaching, The Wide Lens gives a brilliant answer. Ron Adner describes the landscape of innovation in the most complete terms ever achieved. The arrival of this book is a major event for leaders everywhere."
—Adam Brandenburger, J.P. Valles Professor, NYU Stern School of Business, co-author of Co-opetition
"As Ron Adner makes crystal clear, when it comes to proliferating a successful innovation, "it takes a village!" And if you do not think about the needs of your co-innovators, or the chain of adopters that helps it get all the way into the hands of your end users, you are likely to find yourself stranded on the wrong side of a chasm, looking longingly at the customers that could have been yours."
—Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Escape Velocity
About the Author
Ron Adner has spent the last decade studying the root cause of innovation success and failure. An award winning professor of strategy at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and previously at INSEAD, he is a speaker and consultant to companies around the world. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
No, the difference is not explained by poor execution or by poor customer take-up. The difference lies in having too narrow a view of what it takes to make a great innovation succeed.
Three case studies presented by Adner explain the problem and the solution.
Michelin invented the radial tyre in 1946 and revolutionized the industry. In 1992 they came up with the next big innovation, a tyre you can ride on flat for 200 kilometres at 88 kph! The benefits to the customer would be huge. The danger caused by a blow-out would be eliminated as you could drive as if nothing has happened. You will not need to stop to change a flat tire on a dark road late at night. You would not need to carry a spare and tools, which would provide more boot space.
Technologically brilliant it met all the problems that had plagued previous efforts to achieve a ride-flat tyre. To support adoption by the industry, Michelin co-opted competitors to this new technology by licencing the technology to them.
They co-opted garage owners who were enthusiastic about repairing run-flat tyres.
So, twenty year later, where is it?
The answer is that it failed despite Michelin doing everything right. Consumers were prepared to pay a small premium to avoid danger and the inconvenience of a flat, but they were not prepared to pay hundreds of dollars to replace the whole mechanism. They were forced to replace the whole mechanism because there were not enough garages that could do the repair.
The garages were never a factor in new tyre launches, but that would not be the case with this run-flat tyre. Their staff would have to be retrained and new equipment would have to be purchased. They were not prepared to do this until there was a large enough demand, and there couldn’t be a large enough demand until they retrained their staff and equipped their workshops.
For an innovation to work in a deeply sophisticated, integrated economy requires more than just managing your innovation. Now innovations require the management of the innovation ecology, a view that requires the “wide lens” of the book’s title.
Two types of risks to innovation are identified by Adner: Co-innovation risk and Adoption Chain risk.
When Motorola came out with the DynaTAC 8000x in 1983, it was the world’s first handheld, cellular phone. It required 10 hours of charging to support 30 minutes of talking and talking was all you could do. It was bulky and expensive, and based on an analogue network.
The second generation, 2G was based on a digital signal and was capable of transmitting voice as well as small amounts of data – Short Message Services (SMS). Most importantly it was affordable, sparking the world-wide explosion of the cell-phone industry. Nokia needed some innovation to spark the next world-wide explosion because the market for 2G was not too far from saturation.
Their solution was 3G which extended the phone into a portable Internet device capable of keeping you constantly connected. You would be able to do the basics, such as emailing, but also the more complex – viewing video, receiving TV broadcasts, and a host of other exotic services.
When the first 3G phones came onto the market, they had the capacity to do all this, but consumers simply experienced them as a more expensive 2G phone. The problem was that the partners required to supply the content were not there yet!
When an innovation is dependent on the innovation of others, the success question changes from “Can they do it?” to “When can they do it?” The co-invention risk is a function of the risk each external contributor has of not completing their portion. If each co-inventor has an 85% chance of successfully delivering their portion and there are four of these co-inventors on which you depend, the probability of all succeeding is not 85%, but a terrifying 52%.
The challenge for the innovator is to identify this co-innovation risk and to manage it. Deploying resources to mitigate their risk might well be a better investment than reinforcing your part of the innovation.
This last point was critical to mitigation of the second risk, the adoption chain risk, in the case study used as an example of this risk by the author, Adner.
The movie industry in the ‘90’s was distributing their wares in analogue format – canasters of film that had to be copied, shipped and then shipped back. The format was not only inferior to digital, but many, many times more expensive.
The distributor could reproduce the movies in digital format. The first commercial digital projectors were available. The studios could convert film into digital format. The format would allow the viewers to have a better cinema experience and opened up the possibility of 3D movies. It was all positive, but despite this by 2006 only 4% of US cinema screens were showing digital movies.
The problem lay in the adoption chain. The movie makers would benefit. The distributors would benefit. The digital projectors makers would benefit. The cinema patrons would benefit. However, the cinema owners would not. They would have to make a hefty investment in this new technology with no chance of deriving more revenue to off-set it.
When any part of the adoption chain stands to lose, not gain, from an innovation, the chances of success are at great risk.
To the industry’s credit they formulated a mechanism whereby the cinema owner would be assisted in buying the new digital projectors out of a portion of the savings that would accrue from the distribution of the movies in digital format. Four years later 40% of cinemas were screening digital movies.
This book is not a disguised form of advanced project management. It is a long overdue insight into why great innovations fail and the formulation of a method to address it. The basis of the method is “the wide lens,” a view of innovation that encompasses the whole innovation ecology. The value of the book lies in the many tools it offers to address the two risks described above through the 3G and digital movie cases.
This book is well worth a read because it applies to internal innovation as obviously as it does to innovation beyond the company walls.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High -+--- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
1. Co-innovation Risk - This risk represents the extent to which the successful commercialization of an innovation depends on the successful commercialization of other innovations.
2. Adoption Chain Risk - This risk represents the extent to which partners and others will need to adopt the innovation before the end customer can reap the full benefit of the value proposition.
Adner illustrates these risks very clearly in explaining how Michelin's big innovation in tires - the PAX System, which was designed to run for 125 miles after a blowout - failed to take off, despite the backing of major automakers, because the company failed to foresee the need for a robust network of service centers to repair these run-flat tires before going to market. The inability to service PAX tires and the resulting additional expenses incurred by consumers who had to buy new tires led to mass consumer backlash and even lawsuits that ultimately turned automakers off of these truly innovative tires. The PAX system falied because Michelin had failed to mitigate the adoption chain risk.
As Adner explains, co-innovation and adoption chain risks lurk in the blind spots of traditional strategy. They remain dormant as long as an innovation follows established lines (such as Michelin's successful introduction of Radial tires in the 1946). However, as soon as an innovation goes beyond being incremental in nature (such as the PAX tires), ecosystem challenges arise, which can only be addressed with a wide angle lens.
History is replete with examples of innovation failures that occurred despite brilliant execution. Nokia spent millions to be first to market with a 3G handset, but failed to profit because critical partners in its ecosystem did not complete their innovations in time. By the time customized video streaming, location based services, and automated payment systems were finally ready, so was the competition. Phillips suffered a similar fate as it tried to introduce HDTVs in the 1980s. And we are observing a similar dynamic with 3D TVs today. All of these are examples of failures stemming from the lack of "co-innovations" that need to happen for consumers to be able to realize the full benefits of an innovation's value proposition.
The Michelin story above illustrated an innovation's failure due to non adoption by a critical player in the ecosystem. Pfizer's suffered a similar disastrous fate with its miraculous inhalable insulin, Exubera, which was approved by the FDA, hailed by Wall Street analysts, and launched with huge fanfare. The $2.8 billion write-off, widely acknowledged as one of the biggest failures in the history of the pharmaceutical industry, can be traced directly to endocrinologists not embracing the requirement of lung function testing imposed by the FDA.
Contrast the above examples of failure with two innovations that have been successful. Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) is an example of a consortium of movie studios coming together in a unique way to overcome the cost of adopting digital film within the theater value chain. In essence, they subsidized and shared the cost of capital investment in smaller theater chains to ensure that digital film would enjoy the broad distribution and availability critical to its growth. It was a direct result of this innovation that director James Cameron was able to regale us with his 2009 blockbuster movie "Avatar". Amazon's success in the e-reader market with its Kindle product is also an example where Amazon overcame publisher reluctance by subsidizing their participation in addition to robust digital rights management both of which Sony was unable to accomplish and therefore failed despite having a technically superior e-reader.
Finally, Adner provides insight into a topic that is near and dear to my heart - "The First Mover Advantage." In my recent book, Living in the Innovation Age, I talk about the fallacy of thinking that "only the first to market" reaps the benefits of innovation. Rather, there are many cases of second, third, and subsequent movers being successful where the first mover failed. Adner sheds further light on this matter by presenting a framework that one can use to determine whether they should even try to be the "first mover". Per this framework, it only pays to be the first mover if your innovation has very little dependency on the ecosystem. The more complex your innovation becomes and the more it depends on co-innovations and adoption, the less beneficial it is to be a first mover (i.e. the risk of moving first goes up significantly). In such cases, it is much more prudent to be a smart mover as Amazon was with its Kindle and Apple was with its iPod.
The Bottom Line
I highly recommend The Wide Lens to anyone involved in innovation strategies, commercialization and new business development. Its unique approach to analyzing that factors that contribute to the success and failure of complex innovations and the supporting tools (value blueprints, leadership prism, first mover matrix, supply chain reconfiguration levers, and minimum value footprint) are sure to, as Adner summarizes in his last chapter, "multiply your odds of success."
Most recent customer reviews
In November 2016, Adner (with coauthor Rahul Kapoor) had an article summarizing the book in Harvard...Read more