I ask you, is this the face of innovation or death (or both)? Most of you elder statesmen out there, like myself, know this guy. He’s Kenneth Walker, architect, retail design consultant, speaker, teacher and industry gadfly at large. He’s also a friend and colleague of mine and playfully reminded me recently, that I used his original, but now very generic declaration: “innovate or die,” without attributing it to him. It happened to be my opening line for The Robin Report article: “Innovation: Ill-Defined, Misunderstood and a Rare Occurrence.”
Why would I attribute him? As I said, it’s generic because when he first used it at an NRF convention 17 years ago, he didn’t see fit to protect it in any way (not sure he could have anyway). The whole IP issue at that time (pre-Internet dominant) was nascent at best. So it’s like the Kleenex brand today; used generically by most consumers to describe all tissues. Ken says it’s the title of his lecture series when he speaks at the Columbia Business School. His phrase has become part of the cultural conversation; a recent WRC speaker tried to use the title and was asked to change it, which he did. Well, good for you Ken.
Regardless of this little kerfuffle, my innovation article provided some new insights perspectives regarding fundamental and game-changing vs. incremental innovation. So, if you haven’t read it, by all means do, and it’s even worth a re-read. You can read the entire article here >> , and when you read the first sentence: Innovate or die; you can remember it came from this guy.