What Motivates Us to Innovate?

by Dan Blank on July 30, 2010

I read this news this morning:

“About.com is planning a major move into the business-to-business space, launching a number of industry-specific sites.”

Now, I know of a lot of major B2B publishers who have been in the online space for more than a decade. And yet, this is the reason About.com is making the move:

“We evaluated the landscape and found that it was really underserved online.”

Dan Blank
This is how new competitors encroach on any market. Established brands have been working within a defined space in an established manner for years. Yet somehow, the new competitor sees a gap, and is willing to devote resources to either fill a hole, or overtake the existing players.

What I am most curious about is how existing B2B websites will react when About.com becomes a head-to-head competitor. Will they do nothing, justifying that About.com does not have the reputation, connections, or history in their niche field? Will they partner? Will About.com simply fail at these efforts?

It has me considering what drives innovation. In this case, what leads a B2B media company to go into overdrive to launch new products, devote new resources, reorganize their efforts to serve their market in new and exciting ways?

What pushes us in everyday life? What pushes us when we play games or sports? Some ideas:

We move quicker when others are at our heals.

We move into new areas when others tell us it’s okay.

We feel more confident when others show us how.

We feel comfortable doing things when we won’t stand out.

We band together when we are dealing with a threat.

I suppose this is why people say “competition is good.” It also has something to do with the whole “embrace failure” ideology – that if you are failing, it means you are trying new things, and will eventually hit on a new success.

Why do we innovate? Is it proactive or reactive? Is it organizational or individual? These are questions I’ve had for years – especially in times of massive change like that the media world is experience. As companies strive to protect existing revenue streams and work towards creating new ones, they need to develop skillsets that drive innovation as the norm.

Why? Because About.com is just another in a line of new competitors that B2B media companies are facing. And they are certainly not the last.

Here are other blog posts I wrote this week:

If you feel I can help you evolve the skillsets of your organization, give me a call: 973-981-8882. Here are some other ways you can connect with me:

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