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Christmas lights have come a long way since I was a kid. In the days of old, Christmas lights were all on one circuit, so if one bulb…one itty bitty bulb… burned out, the whole strand of lights would stop working and you’d have to check each bulb to figure out which one to replace to get the strand of lights to light up again. I’m not kidding. Ask your grandparents if this isn’t true!

They fixed that problem several years ago and today there are a lot of really beautiful, high quality, durable, affordable Christmas lights to choose from. In fact,a person could probably make a nominal investment in one set of Christmas lights and basically be set for life thanks to the quality that is now engineered into even the least expensive ones. But, alas, for most of us, that won’t be the case.

What happens is that the makers of Christmas lights come out with newer, better, nicer, fancier versions of lights every year, causing us to look at the lights we used last year and wonder how in the world we could stand to adorn our house with that old stuff when a better, more eye-catching choice exists for just a few dollars more. This year I was rather amazed at how many Christmas lights came with apps you could use to control not only the timing of when your lights came on and went off from your smartphone, but the apps also let you choose various combinations of displays to appear at various times. What a world!

This is precisely the kind of innovation Drucker said every organization should practice. The organization should deliver a quality product offering for the customer, and constantly be working on ways to improve that product offering. Indeed, the lights most of us already have probably fit the bill in terms of functionality but the manufacturers of Christmas lights offer us more and better choices in terms of style each year, thus creating new demand. The customer gets more value, the organization has the opportunity to grow its bottom line via share of customer and additional market share, competitors are kept at bay, employees who are helping contribute to the innovation earn a degree of job security, and so on.

Marketing is all about facilitating a mutually-beneficial value exchange with the customer. Innovation is a way to continually enhance the value offered to the customer and enhance profits for the organization.

There is no such thing as an ‘average fighter pilot.’ You’re either an ace, or you’re a target.” – Guiding Principle used by the Army Air Corps in WWII

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