From chapter 19 of Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker
Amazon link: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
In the entrepreneurial strategies discussed so far, the aim is to introduce an innovation.
In the entrepreneurial strategy discussed in this chapter, the strategy itself is the innovation.
The product or service it carries may well have been around a long time—in our first example, the postal service, it was almost two thousand years old.
But the strategy converts this old, established product or service into something new.
It changes its utility, its value, its economic characteristics.
While physically there is no change, economically there is something different and new.
All the strategies to be discussed in this chapter have one thing in common.
They create a customer — and that is the ultimate purpose of a business, indeed, of economic activity.
As was first said more than thirty years ago in my The Practice of Management (New York: Harper & Row, 1954).
But they do so in four different ways:
by creating utility
by adaptation to the customer’s social and economic reality
by delivering what represents true value to the customer
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These examples are likely to be considered obvious.
Surely, anybody applying a little intelligence would have come up with these and similar strategies?
But the father of systematic economics, David Ricardo, is believed to have said once, “Profits are not made by differential cleverness, but by differential stupidity.”
The strategies work, not because they are clever, but because most suppliers—of goods as well as of services, businesses as well as public-service institutions—do not think.
They work precisely because they are so “obvious.”
Why, then, are they so rare?
For, as these examples show, anyone who asks the question, What does the customer really buy? will win the race.
In fact, it is not even a race since nobody else is running.
What explains this?
One reason is the economists and their concept of “value.”
Every economics book points out that customers do not buy a “product,” but what the product does for them.
And then, every economics book promptly drops consideration of everything except the “price” for the product, a “price” defined as what the customer pays to take possession or ownership of a thing or a service.
What the product does for the customer is never mentioned again.
Unfortunately, suppliers, whether of products or of services, tend to follow the economists.
It is meaningful to say that “product A costs X dollars.”
It is meaningful to say that “we have to get Y dollars for the product to cover our own costs of production and have enough left over to cover the cost of capital, and thereby to show an adequate profit.”
But it makes no sense at all to conclude and therefore the customer has to pay the lump sum of Y dollars in cash for each piece of product A he buys.”
Rather, the argument should go as follows: “What the customer pays for each piece of the product has to work out as Y dollars for us.
But how the customer pays depends on what makes the most sense to him.
It depends on what the product does for the customer.
It depends on what fits his reality.
It depends on what the customer sees as ‘value.’”
Price in itself is not “pricing,” and it is not “value.”
It was this insight that gave King Gillette a virtual monopoly on the shaving market for almost forty years; it also enabled the tiny Haloid Company to become the multibillion-dollar Xerox Company in ten years, and it gave General Electric world leadership in steam turbines.
In every single case, these companies became exceedingly profitable.
But they earned their profitability.
They were paid for giving their customers satisfaction, for giving their customers what the customers wanted to buy, in other words, for giving their customers their money’s worth.
“But this is nothing but elementary marketing,” most readers will protest, and they are right.
It is nothing but elementary marketing.
To start out with the customer’s utility, with what the customer buys, with what the realities of the customer are and what the customer’s values are—this is what marketing is all about.
But why, after forty years of preaching Marketing, teaching Marketing, professing Marketing, so few suppliers are willing to follow, I cannot explain.
The fact remains that so far, anyone who is willing to use marketing as the basis for strategy is likely to acquire leadership in an industry or a market fast and almost without risk.
Entrepreneurial strategies are as important as purposeful innovation and entrepreneurial management.
Together, the three make up innovation and entrepreneurship.
The available strategies are reasonably clear, and there are only a few of them.
But it is far less easy to be specific about entrepreneurial strategies than it is about purposeful innovation and entrepreneurial management.
We know what the areas are in which innovative opportunities are to be found and how they are to be analyzed.
There are correct policies and practices and wrong policies and practices to make an existing business or public-service institution capable of entrepreneurship; right things to do and wrong things to do in a new venture.
But the entrepreneurial strategy that fits a certain innovation is a high-risk decision.
Some entrepreneurial strategies are better fits in a given situation, for example, the strategy that I called entrepreneurial judo, which is the strategy of choice where the leading businesses in an industry persist year in and year out in the same habits of arrogance and false superiority.
We can describe the typical advantages and the typical limitations of certain entrepreneurial strategies.
Above all, we know that an entrepreneurial strategy has more chance of success the more it starts out with the users—their utilities, their values, their realities.
An innovation is a change in market or society.
It produces a greater yield for the user, greater wealth-producing capacity for society, higher value or greater satisfaction.
The test of an innovation is always what it does for the user.
Hence, entrepreneurship always needs to be market-focused, indeed, market-driven.
Still, entrepreneurial strategy remains the decision-making area of entrepreneurship and therefore the risk-taking one.
It is by no means hunch or gamble.
But it also is not precisely science.
Rather, it is judgment.