The Ichiro Strategy
When you read an article about innovation these days, chances are the subject will be the well-known disruptive innovation that significantly changes or creates markets. Incremental innovation isn’t nearly as sexy a topic. To make a baseball analogy, most of the thought leaders out there are emphasizing the home runs – Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, for instance.
Ichiro knows this. I remember watching the Mariners in batting practice once. Ichiro Suzuki hit ball after ball over the fence. But when the game started, he hit singles. Why? His job wasn’t to hit home runs – it was to help the team win by getting more men on base to score runs. It’s called small ball, and many World Series have been won that way.
In business, games have been won by making incremental improvements to design, quality, marketing and support. Sabrix made valuable improvements to business tax software. The companies Warren Buffet adopts are known for just this kind of approach.
We all love the grand slams – Google and Groupon – but the number of failures is huge. Consider the incremental strategy that took Ichiro to the top. Home runs are great, but there’s a lot to be said for a plain old hitting streak.