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The Dark Side of Innovation

In the Star Wars epic, Luke Skywalker was repeatedly warned by his Jedi Masters not to stray down the path to the dark side of the Force. He was instructed to only use his powers for good, not for selfish gain.

The power of Innovation has a lot in common with the Force; on the side of good it can save lives (antibiotics), transform cultures (the Internet) and even change the course of history (the Declaration of Independence). Over on the dark side, innovative minds can conjure up the atom bomb, credit default swaps and sub prime loans.

One of the benevolent hallmarks of Innovation is that it creates ideas, goods, and services that provide added value to the consumer. Qualities that makes those things “faster,” “better,” “cheaper,” “Longer-lasting,” “less expensive,” and “more comfortable.”

Today’s challenging economic climate is pushing companies to, in the words of Apple, "think different." To stay competitive (or survive), most companies are looking at ways to maximize the value of their goods and services to attract consumers. In other words, they are bending over backwards to offer customers MORE bang for their precious buck.

However, companies on dark side are finding nefarious ways to do the exact opposite. Instead of engaging in value-adding creative thinking, they spend their time and resources plotting and scheming ways to profit by actually subtracting value! In other words, by finding ways to charge customers for things that used to be FREE, or the same amount for diminished value.

Leading the way down this slippery slope to customer alienation is the airline industry. They seem to have perfected the art of offering low fares to attract customers… and then nickel and dime them to death for things that used to be free. Check that bag…$15 please! Your kid wants a soda…$3, and that seat cushion that can be used as a flotation device should the plane need to ditch in the Hudson River… hummm $$$.

No Federal bailouts for these Bozos to restructure.

Dark Side of Innovation