Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caren Explains the Link between E-Ink and ZINK

Since the school year started I've had the opportunity to learn from a number of CEOs and executives, all hailing from different industries and countries. Yesterday it was Jeff Hicks, CEO of one of my favorite agencies, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; today it was Wendy Caswell, CEO of ZINK Imaging, a company that is pursuing a vision of "digital printing, now magically simple."

Polariod PoGo Instant Digital Camera, utilizing ZINK paper + tech

This is the second digital ink case study I've read this month, the first being one about E-Ink Corporation, the electronic paper manufacturer that makes the Kindle come alive.

Though we don't get to hear from case protagonists or guest speakers every day, I do find their occassional insights to be a good dose of reality when thrown into the b-school setting. [That's what I think is missing in your argument against live speakers @rafaelcorrales]. It's a reminder that you don't know what you don't know -- for better or worse.

Former E-Ink CEO Jim Iuliano spoke during one of my classes in September, and some of his comments and insights were echoed today by Caswell (and are applicable to many innovative, tech-driven ventures). First, that learning happens in the market, not the labs. The second is an extension of that thought. As Iuliano explained, "Perfection is not worth waiting for."

This go-to-market strategy certainly carries significant risk and requires that business partners are willing to go along for the ride. For these reasons, it's not surprising that the MBA classroom can be very critical of such a strategy, arguing that a company should thoroughly plot its market strategy, or perfect the technology, before launching -- and maybe that's true. But to hear both of these experienced leaders advocate a 'get-in-there-and-learn-as-you-go' strategy (or "stick with it and chunk it up," as Caswell said) warrants more consideration, especially in markets that have yet to be developed.

Is it better to shoot for the moon, or footrace to the top?

1 comment:

Amanda, Ben and Harper said...

I'm currently pursuing the footrace to the moon technique.