The Illusion of Progress

Clayton Christensen in Competing Against Luck calls out how many companies have activities that give the illusion of progress, without actually causing it. To use Yogi Berra’s word, “We’re lost, but we’re making good time!”

This happens when we fail to understand the “why”. Why do our customers choose our products? Why do they choose our competitors? We know what our customers look like and we have highly refined models on who they are, but we still can’t say why they make the decisions they do.

Innovation processes in many companies are structured and disciplined, and the talent applying them is highly skilled. There are careful stage-gates, rapid iterations, and checks and balances built into most organizations’ innovation processes. Risks are carefully calculated and mitigated…From the outside, it looks like companies have mastered an awfully precise, scientific process. But for most of them, innovation is still painfully hit or miss. And worst of all, all this activity gives the illusion of progress, without actually causing it.

Clayton Christensen, Competing Against Luck

Are you chasing the illusion of progress and gambling on your products? Or are you developing and understanding of your customers, the job they hire your product for, and testing out your hypotheses?

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