If you type the word “innovation” into the search window on Google books, you get more than 54 million hits—a testimony to how the pursuit of innovation has taken hold as the prime business imperative of the 21st century. But is innovation itself really a solution?
On a recent panel I moderated in Taipei, Ming-Je Tang, Vice President for Finance Affairs and Professor of International Business at National Taiwan University, took up this question. He listed a number of companies that were home to some of the most miraculous innovations of the 20th century—from mass production assembly lines to the personal computer. The thing they all had in common in addition to that innovation was that they are all either now struggling—or gone. They are victims, he says, of the “innovator’s curse.”