Creation versus Reinvention: The Great Debate About Business Leadership and Success
A business fact: The creation of new products is a necessity, but the reinvention of existing items is still the ultimate priority.
Rather, the creation of otherwise unimaginable, nameless goods and services is often the result of the reinvention of universally adopted tools and resources.
From these relics of a pre-digital world emerge a duo of devices that are now at the forefront of global communications and the uninterrupted flow of information, courtesy of geosynchronous technology, razor-thin wireless routers, a constellation of satellites, and a lattice-like network of the most ancient energy, light, to relay and reconstitute the sounds and images of our existence.
I refer, specifically, to the reinvention of the telephone into a smartphone – with all the attendant applications, numbering more than 1.2 million (for the iPhone), created by engineers, programmers and entrepreneurs – and, along with that transformation, I cite the most profound revolution underway: The mobilization of television.
I am no stranger to this issue; and I offer my words based on experience, where, in my role as the Founder and CEO of Choose.TV, which enables users to watch television programming from major outlets such as TVI (Ukraine), WABC-TV (New York), C5N (Argentina), Bansal News (India), Hir TV (Hungary) and France 24, among others, the reinvention of television proceeds apace.
I “choose” to emphasize this point because it proves my initial assertion about the contrast between creating something new, as opposed to radically (and for the better) reinventing something so basic and familiar.
Television is rife with opportunity, from how we experience (via our smartphones and tablets) this medium to how we use this freedom of choice.
As a metaphor, TV is a chance to channel, so to speak, our creative impulses and direct our attention to reinventing other established industries. It is proof of the many ways a product can evolve (from black-and-white to color to cable to on-demand programming) and advance (from oversized and expensive forms of technology-as-furniture to sleek examples of lifestyle-accessories-as-works-of-art).
The TV metaphor is more than a symbol; it is a summons to all executives, in all industries, to reopen shuttered factories, retrofit old means of manufacturing, and retrain and reemploy workers in areas where the core service, like the ability to send and receive calls or watch news and entertainment shows, is the same – while everything else is new and remarkable.
In this environment, a phone fits in your pocket; and contains over a thousand songs, more than a thousand hours of videos, situation comedies and serialized novels, along with the convenience of allowing users to text, tweet, poke and friend each other. Or: The modern smartphone also is a phone.
Reinvent to Revolutionize: The Rewards of Creating New Opportunities from Existing Industries
The takeaway theme to this discussion is one I encourage executives to follow: To approach a product with a focus on the issue of how, instead of how come, to ask themselves this question, “How can we reinvent something already simple, and thus avoid complicating a straightforward service, while also expanding personal freedom and providing unparalleled benefits?”
Bear in mind that not every reinvention is successful, as some products are the failed precursors (like early versions of personal digital assistants) to future iterations of best-selling devices, which contain the digital DNA of an extinct predecessor.
And yet, the process of reinvention continues; it excludes the perfectly acceptable, in pursuit of something that is acceptable because it is perfect. It embodies Steve Jobs's philosophy of design: “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
Carrying it all the way through – that encapsulates the essence of reinvention, and the subsequent creation of new businesses and the rise of new customers.
We can hear the evidence of this statement on an iPhone, and we can see its televised replay – of our own choosing – with a new way to watch TV.
We can do these things because we choose to be inventors of reinvention.
From there, whole communities will debut by the millions.
Our duty is to create an atmosphere of success. Which is to say, reinvent, always, so you may create constantly.
Tan Tran is the Founder and CEO of Choose.TV, an innovative application that allows people to watch television programming from around the world by customizing their favorite channels for news, music and entertainment.