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The Third Way: Innovation Application

Posted by Chip Block on July 30, 2018 3:40 PM EDT
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A recently published book from the prestigious Havard Business Publishing house describes a "Third Way" for innovators.....

...to bring lower risk, higher impact innovations to the market to bolster a sagging product, or a new product or one which has more profit potential within or beyond its core market.  I have just started reading this book, and after about 60 pages can say that I am more than a little intrigued.

The name of this book is "The Power of Little Ideas" and it is written for companies that are looking for ways to deploy innovation around an important core product and to do so in a lower cost and lower risk approach.  The book's authors David C. Robertson and Kent Lineback have done a good job of differentiating how the "Third Way" is perhaps a more appealing approach for most companies that don't want to disrupt their core product(s) or who want a more significant outcome potential from their innovation efforts than they can expect with sustaining innovations.  The author uses many examples of companies that have, without pretension or without even knowing it, adopted the "Third Way" as a strategic model for deploying smaller innovations that are complementary to their core product offering.  In some cases, this has enabled the company to not only bolster sales of their core product or service but to create expansion opportunities out of the innovations as the "value bundle" matures and customers look for more options in the complementary "innovation extensions.

My expertise as an employee benefits consultant doesn't necessarily rest in the kind of expertise and study that either Joe or Thomas have demonstrated in their work and their writing.  But when I read Thomas' blog post last week about trying to find the middle ground between the two extreme forms of innovation that researchers have embraced over the last couple of decades, I find that the "Third Way" makes a lot more sense.  Applying this model of complementary innovations that help create more value for the core offering and together benefit from the leverage of the core offering there could be many new innovations that may make the core medical insurance benefit offering, well, more of a benefit.

So, look for me to chime in from time to time with some thoughts that have sprung up in my mind due to continuing to read this new book and to think about how its premise could help the broader notion of driving population health management and population health improvement from the context of the employer's influence amongst employees and the leverage the core benefits offering may provide the small, but complementary innovations.

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Thanks Chip. We're all looking forward to learning more about the "Third Way" and how this model for applying innovation can be adapted to issues related to healthier living, employee benefits and to arresting and reducing the costs of preventable and/or recoverable health conditions.

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Joe Antle

9 months ago

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