conditioned to expect that some profits will be spent on R&D and category design. A few other points from Weeks:

  • “Listen to [customers] so that you understand what the root problem is rather than just doing the solution, because if we just do what we’re told, they wouldn’t need us, and if they didn’t need us, we wouldn’t be able to generate the kind of profitability and competitive advantage that it takes to define a category.”
  • “Understand how important time is. It takes a long time to [invent] new materials. We build that knowledge, then the skills in our people, then we’re able to use that knowledge to attack other markets. It’s way more knowledge-efficient.”
  • “You’ve got to make sure you’re on the creative side of creative destruction. Because if you aren’t, you’ll ultimately end as a company.”

Corning’s ability to define, develop, and dominate new categories has helped the company remain relevant and vibrant decade after decade. Creating new categories renews Corning as old categories slough away. Take away category creation, and any company becomes tired and expendable. We believe Corning is proof that an old company can institutionalize category design.

Category design is not only for startup pirates who storm the corporate gates — it works for pirates already inside the gates.

Excerpted from Play Bigger. Copyright 2016 by Alan Ramadan, Dave Peterson, and Christopher Lochhead with Kevin Maney. A HarperBusiness book, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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