October 04, 2004

Innovation: The Darwin Factor

Open with Darwin
Penicillin, Teflon, Post-it Notes -- they sprang from such accidents as moldy Petri dishes, a failed coolant, and a mediocre glue. It's no wonder so many executives throw up their hands. "Our approach has always been very simple, which is to try not to manage innovation," shrugs Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Moritz, a partner with Sequoia Capital. "We prefer to just let the market manage it."

Yet even in the Darwinian chaos of Silicon Valley,
...and Close with Darwin
Therein lies a fundamental constant of innovation: Nothing stays constant. Contending with innovation's disruptive influence requires what Amazon's Bezos calls a "culture of divine discontent" in which everyone itches to improve things. "Most people, unleashed, are innovators," he says. "We're this great species of tool-using animal who likes to make our world better." The companies that can unleash that particular animal instinct are the ones that will thrive.