A few months ago, I stumbled upon a video of Clayton Christensen, best known for his study of innovation in commercial enterprises, on hiring a milkshake. Yes, hiring a milkshake. Although the video setting is somewhat bizarre, the concept is simple: design products around "jobs" your customers are "hiring" your product to do.
In a more recent interview with Wired, Christensen wrestles with the notion of investing in efficiency innovations over empowering innovations. This quote really stuck with me:
"We’ve encouraged managers to measure profitability based on a return on net assets, or return on capital employed. That encourages companies to liberate their capital, so they invest in efficiency innovations, which means they can make more money with fewer resources. But what the economy ultimately needs are empowering innovations—like the Model T, the transistor radio. Empowering innovations require long-term investments, which tie up capital for years and years. So companies are using capital to create more capital, and consequently the world is awash in capital but the innovations we need to advance aren’t there."