“We must plan to obsolete our best product!”

The words were met with stunned silence.

“Expertise is the enemy of innovation!”

More silence.

The scene was from a training session I attended, and we soon learned the speaker was serious about these points. He went on to expand the statements into the larger dynamic that if you are not reinventing your products and methods right now, your best competitors will be — and they will steal your market share.

Over the years, I’ve observed this to be true in our industry. The glass, coatings, hardware and framing systems of just a few years ago have been replaced by newer and better versions, and the companies that adopted more quickly gained share. We are not that far removed in time from the “sash and door” shops in each town that built each wooden sash to order, putty-glazed them with hand-cut single-glass panes, and mounted them in wooden frames from the lumber yard. Innovation is the prime mover of market share.

A great example of market share losses due to innovation is Kodak. Starting in 1888, they ruled the world of film and cameras. They eventually employed over 70,000 people and had a stock price of $90. Kodak invented the digital camera in 1974 and OLEDS in 1987, but it failed to commercialize it. Kodak did not realize it must reinvent its products and business and suffered for it. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 with only 1/25 of its sales, no profit, stock price in the pennies, and less than 8 percent of its employees intact.



Each successful company must strategize how it will reinvent itself. The above chart from Gartner shows a realistic look at the tech that we hear about in the news. The timeline is essential to understand when these methods will be available. (Follow this link to read more.) It also does a good job of illustrating the life of the products. The technologies are described as going through a life cycle of:

1. Innovation trigger;

2. The peak of inflated expectations;

3. Trough of disillusionment;

4. Slope of enlightenment, and;

5. Plateau of productivity.

The tech on this chart will come to market. It is up to us to learn the lessons of the past and prepare our industry to adopt these ideas. In less than 25 years, your organization will thrive or be gone, based on your decisions surrounding innovation.

Keep Innovating!

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