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Lessons from Tesla's Approach to Innovation

Tesla’s innovation strategy

Tesla’s innovation strategy offers lasting lessons for any innovator, especially in terms of

  • how to win support for an idea and
  • how to bring new technologies to the market.

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Lessons from Tesla's Approach to Innovation

Lessons from Tesla's Approach to Innovation

https://hbr.org/2020/02/lessons-from-teslas-approach-to-innovation

hbr.org

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Key Ideas

Innovation Capital

There are four factors how innovators build up their innovation capital: Who you are, who you know, what you have done, your ability to draw attention to your ideas. Most notably, innovation capital is something accumulated over time through thoughtful action.

The Cybertruck is then about getting attention and proving that Tesla is one of the world's most innovative companies, specifically for the purpose of building Tesla's ability to win support from stakeholders.

Winning the resources

Elon Musk is a master of building and using innovation capital to win support for his ideas. To gain support:

  • He leverages his past success at PayPal and Space X
  • He uses "impression amplifiers". He does more than talk about the new idea. He puts it into physical form to convince skeptics.
  • He broadcasts the idea through big media launches to generate a buzz.
  • He compares or draws a comparison between his innovation and some other successful one to create an impression of technical superiority.

Commercializing the idea

A part of Tesla's strategy, which forms the core products and requires the most investment, aims to transform an industry by paying attention not just to the product, but to the entire product ecosystem.

  • Tesla tends to beat out competitors who try to leverage part of the old internal combustion vehicle architecture by operating on a completely different architecture.
  • Tesla is making sure to control the bottleneck - the components that limit the performance of the system. They will thus control the profit center.
  • Tesla's strategy also manages the entire set of complements needed for a consumer to ensure a quicker adoption of technology.

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