Thursday, May 24, 2007

Steve Ballmer’s Thoughts on Innovation Causes Temporary Paralysis

When I read this quote from Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, I was sort of stunned for a moment. I didn’t quite know how to absorb it. I realized I wasn’t moving and may have been physically damaged by this quote. Deep breaths…I’m OK.

I don’t know anyone who says innovation is an overnight thing. Innovation is hard work. We all know this. It takes a smart organization filled with smart people that work with a smart product lifecycle that values listening to customers. Customer data has a shelf life, so there is a relationship to time. Timing is absolutely a factor in innovation, but I don’t believe there is any timeframe you can associate with it though. It takes as long as it takes, but it in most cases doesn’t take a decade.

I’m not sure I have ever heard anyone discuss how Windows was or is innovative. I remember hearing many folks say how Windows emulated Mac features. I remember hearing people saying their Windows machine crashed all the time. Nope, I’m positive. I can’t recollect an innovation thought tied to a Windows thought.

Lastly, what is the correlation between popularity and innovation? Innovative products can be popular, but popular products aren’t always innovative. They are just popular. To get popular, Microsoft used tactics that got them sued the world over. Was that innovative?

I have hope for Microsoft to become an innovative powerhouse spoken in the same glowing sentences alongside Google, Amazon and Apple. They just aren’t there yet.

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