In this month’s celebration of notable innovators, Spark Partners take this episode to compare two notable innovators: the late Tony Hsieh and the late Frank Carney. Hsieh, the former CEO of the online shoe company Zappos, pioneered the concept of easy product returns that led the entire ecommerce industry to follow suit. Pizza Hut co-founder Frank Carney created the pizza that defines America by its low cost and unique flavor, and spread it nationwide through the nation’s first pizza franchise. But what made Hsieh successful--and Carney less so--was his ability to innovate past one great idea.
As Hsieh did, thoughtful innovators must always put customers first and understand the market, before building a value delivery system. Too many leaders mistakenly believe they’ll get rich off their unique creations without first knowing the needs they meet. Those who profit from game-changing ideas are those that rightly capture their value. That’s the difference between inventing and innovating; recognizing that determines who wins and who loses.
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