Dealing with Darwin, by Geoffrey Moore

It’s been a while since I really wanted to read a book by Geoff Moore — living in Silicon Valley, it’s easy to get a little jaded about his chasm or tornado or main street mixed metaphors, as useful and widespread as they are (and they are very useful ideas). This book I found super-interesting, at least the first 100 pages or so — it’s about innovation — what it’s for, when it’s appropriate, and how to try to get it if you want it.

Like most of Moore’s stuff, I net this book out with 2 important ideas that I’ve applied to things over the past few weeks. The first is core v context: what differentiates your company/product is core; everything else is context. While you may have some very important context (getting maintenance releases out, billing in a timely way, whatever), you’ll never win because of great context (although you could lose because of bad context). Core is what matters most. So always look for ways and be structured about taking resources away from context (assuming you’re not creating bad context) and moving them to core activities.

The second idea is that innovation is never the right thing to do for innovation’s sake (I worked in Apple’s research labs, so understand this idea very well). He posits that innovation has 4 potential outcomes: differentiation (enabling pricing power), neutralization (getting to parity with your competitors’ features), productivity (reducing production cost), and waste (often this is the main outcome).

Anyway, it’s a book worth reading for anyone who’s thinking much about how to make sure your company (at any stage) innovates in appropriate & productive ways.

(Just came out on 12/29, but I’ve had an advance copy for a few months.)

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