"slow" in "slow innovation"

A nice read in the last issue of Design Mind (by Frog Design): "Slow Innovation: Good ideas take a long time to perfect" by David Hoffer. Taking various examples (from Edison’s cylinder phonograph invented in 1877 to its plateau-ed end in 1910 or the 80 years duration of vinyls), the author shows that there seems to be 30-plus year innovation cycles and variations. This topic is of course highly explored in the literature about the diffusion of innovation (see for instance the work by Everett Rogers). The article sums up some of the results from this literature. See for example the discussion about the users' roles in innovation ("echnology may be advancing quickly, but that doesn’t mean humans have the interest or the aptitude to adopt it right away"). But more importantly, it's the implications for business that are the most relevant here:

"For businesses, slow is often a pejorative term, but slow innovation isn’t always a bad thing. Slow change can give entrenched industries a chance to gather their thoughts and respond effectively. Is it possible that a 19th-century buggy-whip company, faced with declining sales, started fashioning steering wheel covers, gearshift handle caps, and leather seating in cars? If not, they should have, thereby turning extinction into evolution. Businesses looking to innovate must always be paying attention to disruptions (and perhaps even doing a little disrupting of their own)."

Why do I blog this? updating the material I use for the courses I will give this semester about innovation, user research and foresight.