State can make it safer, easier for firms to take risks

'If we play the same way as every other state, we lose.'

Saul Kaplan isn’t about to get “Netflixed.” That’s the term he uses to describe a business’ inability to anticipate change and, worse, failure to reinvent itself for future success, referencing what happened to the Blockbuster franchise when Netflix came along with a new business model for the same product. More

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State can make it safer, easier for firms to take risks

'If we play the same way as every other state, we lose.'

COURTESY SAUL KAPLAN
IT’S OK TO FAIL, says BIF founder Saul Kaplan, if you’re trying to be an innovator. In fact, failure can lead to future success, he says.
Posted 6/18/12

Saul Kaplan isn’t about to get “Netflixed.”

That’s the term he uses to describe a business’ inability to anticipate change and, worse, failure to reinvent itself for future success, referencing what happened to the Blockbuster franchise when Netflix came along with a new business model for the same product.

In case you missed it, Blockbuster all but went under.

Embracing innovation – or thinking in terms of market-making instead of market-share taking – has been at the core of Kaplan’s career from his days in sales within the pharmaceutical industry, where he had a front-row seat to the introduction of Prozac, to his tenure as head of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation.

In 2005, he founded the Business Innovation Factory as part of his focus at EDC in pushing innovation and entrepreneurship in order to help stimulate the state’s economy.

He’s continued to run BIF since he resigned from the EDC in 2008. and has published “The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant When the World is Changing” that he hopes will inspire other business leaders to avoid getting Netflixed.

PBN: Why was now the right time to write this book?

KAPLAN: I really think that leaders are looking for ways to be bolder. They want to be more innovative, but they don’t have the tools to do it. They don’t have the tools to separate incremental change from bolder. They tend to put the two together and then you only get incremental [that way]. They don’t carve out enough space for experimenting – not just with technology but with new business models and social systems. How are we ever going to fix health care and education if we aren’t willing to experiment with new approaches that are designed around the consumer?

PBN: You got a science degree and then went into sales and marketing. Did you originally intend to work on the science side of the pharmaceutical industry? Or was sales your goal?

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