Simplifying Innovation

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Despite how young I may seem, I grew up at that cusp right before technology truly took over life as we know it. I still remember life without the Internet. I still remember walking to Blockbuster and staring at the huge wall of VHSes, trying to decide which movie to pick. I remember going to Best Buy or Sam Goody and buying cassettes and CDs and then playing them on my Walkman.

But I also remember several significant shifts: I remember getting dial-up Internet, and, eventually, cable Internet. I remember signing up for Netflix and having DVDs sent directly to my house. I remember buying my first iPod and uploading all my (likely illegally downloaded from Napster (I know!)) music onto it.

But each time those new products and services popped up, I also remember being incredulous.

An iPod? I love owning physical CDs!

Netflix is really going to drive Blockbuster out of business? Yeah, right, people love going to Blockbuster.

It’s a good thing I was a kid and not an investor at the time.

The point is, it’s hard to recognize innovation when it’s happening. Really, how is anyone supposed to know what will be a passing fad or a truly revolutionary concept that will disrupt the industry?

That’s what this month’s feature well, “Lasting Lessons” (page XX), tackles. Associate editor Tess Collins uses the lessons of some of history’s most recognizable innovators to define what innovation is, and, more importantly, how you as a dealer can push your own operation and grow alongside some of the disruptors affecting the industry.

What struck me most while reading her feature was just how much we overthink innovation. It doesn’t have to be a scary disruptor coming from a Silicon Valley startup staffed by millennials. What innovation boils down to is the following: finding a solution to a need. That could be as simple as a new process for texting customers or maximizing an additional profit center.

It’s what dealers and fixed ops professionals have done for years, and will continue to do. The disruptors might be different and the technology may change, but the strategies and keys to implementation remain remarkably the same moving forward.


Anna Zeck

Editorial Director


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