Tim O’Reilly on Michael Schrage’s Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?

by Reihan Salam

Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and a legend in the technology world, perhaps best known for his role as an evangelist for the concept of “Web 2.0,” has written an effusive short review of Michael Schrage’s excellent new ebook, Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?

Ideas are tools for thinking with. In the world of business, people like Peter Drucker, Clayton Christenson, and Michael Porter have each given new insights that have shaped the dialogue about how to do business successfully.  Well, add Michael Schrage to that list. Read his new ebook, Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?, and you’ll never think about the process of innovation in the same way.

Great innovators, Schrage argues, don’t just conceive new products, they reconceive the customers for those products.  Think for a moment about how Henry Ford didn’t just create cars – he had to create a whole new vision of society in order to create customers for those cars. Edison didn’t just invent the lightbulb and the phonograph, he invented  people who came to rely on those things, and everything else that electricity now lets us take for granted.

We’re in the middle of one of these great transitions in who we are, and what society will become, driven first by the internet, and now the smartphone. Our always-on culture turns us into a different kind of people. Google, Apple, Amazon all are great companies because they change our expectations about what is possible and how we live.

I plan to write more about the book post-election.

The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.