"Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been"

Icy RoadOrganizations are often consumed with market research and competitive analysis. They say they want to innovate, but their products and services are nothing more than a reflection of the current market. They a stuck in today's paradigm, eking out incremental change, year after year.  The signals they use to plan and develop new products and services is much like the frozen ruts in the icy roads near my home on a cold winter day.

How should companies escape from this trap? Years ago, Wayne Gretzky said:  “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  Steve Jobs referenced this quote a few years ago at the launch of the iPhone, to describe Apple's strategy. I recently read again in a 2007 interview of Greg Joswiak, who at the time was Apple’s Product Manager for the iPod and iPhone. He quoted Gretzky, and then continued, “… We try to understand as we develop our product road map, what’s going to be exciting in the future. And that’s one of the advantages we have over our competitors. Our competitors tend to put the cross hairs on where we are now, and by the time they come up with a product that tries to match where we are now, we’re beyond them. We’re one or two generations beyond, moving faster than they are."

I am not suggesting you should ignore the competition, but I am suggesting that the future is often right in front of you. Embrace it! Exploit it! Let me know what you think.