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Through the Lens of Fernando Seabra: Drucker’s Vision of a Continually Evolving Business World

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In an era where the term “innovation” increasingly becomes a mantra in the business world, the insightful writing of Fernando Seabra offers us a refreshing and deep perspective on the topic. Drawing from the words of Peter Drucker, acknowledged as the father of modern management, Seabra delves into the idea that innovation is not merely a stroke of luck or an “eureka” moment, but rather a disciplined and systematic process that can be taught and learned.

Fernando Seabra guides us through Drucker’s thoughts, clarifying that innovation is essential, not optional. In a world where change is the only constant, innovation isn’t just about creating something new, but about adapting, evolving, and above all, surviving. More than this, the article lays out Drucker’s “seven sources of innovation,” providing a practical guide to pinpointing opportunities, accompanied by tangible examples of businesses that have genuinely turned insights into successful innovations.

By sharing this piece, originally published by the Brazilian website ‘’Consumidor Moderno’’, I wish to offer you a revealing perspective on how innovation, far from being an abstraction, is a tangible, approachable, and moldable imperative. Enjoy the wisdom and clarity with which Fernando Seabra deciphers Drucker’s legacy, allowing us a better understanding of innovation in today’s business context.

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Below is the full analysis by Fernando Seabra on Peter Drucker’s legacy:

The father of modern management and my teacher, Peter Drucker, sees innovation not as mere happenstance or a flash of genius but as a systematic and organized activity. To him, to innovate is something that can be taught and learned, much like any other business skill or discipline. Instead of being an occasional event, innovation should be a continuous practice, ingrained into an organization’s culture and strategy. Moreover, Drucker believes that innovation isn’t a luxury or an option. In a continually evolving business world where consumer needs and wants change and new technologies regularly emerge, innovation is paramount. During my MBA, Drucker shared a thought we should all heed: we need to launch our products today and start phasing them out tomorrow. That’s how businesses adapt, grow, and ultimately, survive. It was at that exact moment that I first encountered the concept of continuous innovation. Without it, companies risk becoming obsolete, overtaken by more agile and adaptable competitors.

It’s also worth noting Drucker’s view that innovation isn’t exclusive to large corporations or high-tech sectors. Any company, big or small, in any sector, can and should innovate. Whether it’s enhancing an internal process, introducing a new product, or entirely redefining their business model, innovation is attainable and necessary for all.

The Seven Sources of Innovation

In his work “Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Drucker pinpointed seven sources of innovation. These are areas where opportunities for innovation might arise. Here they are:

1- Unexpected – unforeseen successes and failures: When something doesn’t go as planned, be it an unexpected success or failure, there might be an opportunity for innovation;

2- Incongruities: When there’s a discrepancy between what is and what should be, an opening for innovation might exist. This could be an inconsistency in a process, market, or product;

3- Process needs: When a process can be enhanced or an unmet need in the process arises, there’s an opportunity for innovation;

4-Changes in the industry or market structure: Significant shifts in an industry or market, like new regulations or emerging technologies, can create room for innovation;

5- Demographics: Demographic shifts, such as population changes, age, family structure, etc., can generate new needs and opportunities for innovation;

6- Changes in perception, mood, and meaning: The way people perceive the world around them, their values, and behaviors might change over time. These alterations can pave the way for new products, services, or businesses;

7- New knowledge: New ideas, technologies, or combinations of existing knowledge can lead to innovations. This might encompass scientific breakthroughs, technological advances, or even new approaches to tackle old problems. Drucker stressed that innovation isn’t just about technology or inventions but applying ideas to create value. He also emphasized the importance of looking outside one’s organization and industry to spot potential innovations.

Success Stories

Unexpected – unforeseen successes and failures: Originally, Netflix was a DVD rental-by-mail service. However, they noticed an unforeseen success with their subscription and streaming model, propelling them to become the streaming titan they are today;

Incongruities: James Dyson noticed an inconsistency between the expected and actual performance of traditional vacuum cleaners. This drove him to develop the bagless vacuum that doesn’t lose suction as it fills up;

Process needs: Toyota designed the Toyota Production System, also known as Lean Manufacturing. They identified inefficiencies in traditional manufacturing processes and innovated to devise a more efficient and cost-effective system.

Changes in the industry or market structure: Uber leveraged changes in the taxi industry and the widespread use of smartphones to birth a new business model based on ride-sharing.

Demographics: The baby food company Gerber emerged in response to the demographic needs of families with infants and the demand for convenient, nutritious food for this age group.

Changes in perception, mood, and meaning: With growing awareness of environmental concerns, health, and animal rights, many consumers are seeking alternatives to meat. Beyond Meat innovated by crafting plant-based products mimicking the taste and texture of meat.

New knowledge: Utilizing the groundbreaking knowledge on CRISPR gene-editing technology, CRISPR Therapeutics is at the forefront of innovation in genetic therapies to treat diseases. These are merely examples, and in many instances, companies might fit several categories simultaneously. The key is to recognize that innovation opportunities can stem from various sources. Peter Drucker’s approach to innovation underscores its intrinsic and vital nature in the contemporary business landscape. By demystifying innovation, removing it from the realm of randomness, and positioning it as a teachable and learnable activity, Drucker offers a groundbreaking perspective on how businesses and entrepreneurs can stay ahead in an ever-changing environment. His seven sources of innovation, illustrated by real-world examples from renowned companies, provide a roadmap for organizations and entrepreneurs aiming to identify and capitalize on opportunities, irrespective of their size or industry. At the heart of his philosophy is the notion that innovation isn’t merely inventing new technologies but strategically applying ideas to produce genuine value. In a world where adaptability is key, Drucker’s insight stands as a beacon, guiding businesses and entrepreneurs on the ongoing journey of reinvention and growth.

Through the Lens of Fernando Seabra: Drucker's Vision of a Continually Evolving Business World

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About Fernando Seabra:

Angel investor, Advisor on “Batalha das Startups”, Mentor for “Planeta Startup”, Evaluator for “Shark Tank Brazil”, Director of Innovation at ACSP – São Paulo Chamber of Commerce, Influencer for SAP Brazil, Professor in various MBA programs in the fields of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Creator of the Pitch Canvas Methodology.

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