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Fast Second

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Fast Second

How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter and Dominate New Markets


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Forget that fabled “first mover” advantage. The real spoils go to the savvy second movers.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Constantinos C. Markides and Paul A. Geroski face a curious challenge: They have a lot of data to support their claim that the way to make big profits, if you’re quick enough, is to be the second company to take an innovation to market. However, the myth of the first mover – the idea that being first to market is the way to make money – is pervasive enough that they have to spend a lot of time convincingly debunking it. They also show the challenges and risks of trying to become a successful “fast second.” The authors explain the complicated, almost organic, interaction among innovators, competitors, markets and consumer demands that tug at the marketplace. They do a fine job of documenting the collective act of creation. getAbstract recommends this book to those who want to rethink their strategies for innovating or entering new markets. The possibilities of being a second mover will appeal to anyone who is interested in innovation, planning, new product marketing, or social and economic change.


Misconceptions about Radical Innovations

Which firm created the innovation of selling books online? Wrong. Amazon is just one example of a common misconception about innovative firms: that you have to be the first to enter a new market to profit from it. In truth, the innovators who introduce fundamentally new products – and create “radically new markets” – are not the firms that profit. Instead, later firms make the money; organizations that consolidate the innovations and scale them up are the ones who profit from them. History and memory combine to fool the mind. People forget the individuals who created cars and failed before Henry Ford found ways to bring them to market. Generally, innovation takes four forms:

  1. “Incremental innovation” – Minor, small improvements made to a known product.
  2. “Major innovation” – Larger variations made to a known product.
  3. “Strategic innovation” – Relatively minor changes, but ones that “destroy” existing markets.
  4. “Radical innovation” – Major change that fundamentally disrupts your understanding of your business and your product...

About the Authors

Constantinos C. Markides is a professor of strategic leadership at the London Business School, and wrote All the Right Moves and other works. Former LBS economics professor Paul A. Geroski chairs the U.K.s Competition Commission.

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