An innovation is a new answer to an old question.

A paradigm shift is a new question, resulting in a new answer.

When the first iPhone came out we were all absolutely blown away.

I had a friend named Johnny who was really into ‘all that stuff’ [most people were not back then] and he had watched the Steve Jobs’s keynote… so he informed me that we were all about to experience a miracle. He was right.

See… the first iPhone was a paradigm shift. It was asking a new question which was: What is a phone really?

Subsequent phones were ‘merely’ innovations [new answer to an old question]: How do we make the phone better?

That is why our hearts never skipped a bit again ever since the iPhone.

Another good example is Starbucks [tip of the hat to Purple Cow for reminding me of this…go read that book]

Growing up in South Africa, coffee was not the thing to be crazy about, I still don’t think we are that crazy about it.

But today, a lot of young folks, hang out at Starbucks sipping the various frappuccinos and discussing various high minded things.

Starbucks was a paradigm shift for asking the new question: What is a cup of coffee?

Now I get it. I love the new definition and utilise it every day of my life.

Paradigm shifts and innovation are both crucial.

The simple idea is this: be very clear with yourself and with your team about which one you are going after, and then plan and serve accordingly.

Innovation: Kodak

Paradigm shift: Instagram,

Innovation: Hilton

Paradigm shift: Airbnb

Innovation: Cab drivers

Paradigm shift: Uber

Innovation: Banks

Paradigm shift: Paypal

Innovation: Multichoice

Paradigm shift: Netflix

Paradigm shift: new question, new answer

Innovation: old question, new answer

A new answer to an old question is sustaining innovation.

A new answer to a new question is disruptive innovation.

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