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 / Winter 2004 / Issue 37(originally published by Booz & Company)


Bridging the Breakthrough Gap

A Third Way
Research by business scholars has shown that, when it comes to major innovations, the first movers rarely find the greatest success. They’re usually outmaneuvered by the copycats — the companies that follow in the innovators’ footsteps but end up dominating the market because of their stronger managerial and marketing skills.

Conservative innovation follows a different path, a third way. Conservative innovators neither pioneer a new technology nor copy it. Rather, they combine it with an older technology to create a different sort of product altogether. And, often, it’s exactly the product that today’s customers actually need, want, and are willing to pay for.

Reprint No. 04402

Author Profiles:

Nicholas G. Carr ([email protected]), a contributing editor to strategy+business, is the author of Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage (Harvard Business School Press, 2004).
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