The innovation gardener stands the test of time
Two of Alessi’s answers struck a cord:
1. In response to a question about the downturn Alessi says: “It does not change anything for myself, personally. My future is to continue to be a gardener. A gardener has to properly prepare the ground, then plant the seeds, then wait. Then, as the flower appears, a gardener has to take care of it...” I could not have wished for a better illustration by a CEO that you do not grow a plant by pulling on it.
2. Asked what the average shelf life of their products is, Alessi replies: “Very long. In metal, 30 to 50 years; in plastic, we have only 20 years of experience, but we have 20-year-old plastic products that are still well alive. Sometimes we are trendy. But the life of the object often continues for a long time after it’s made.” Such an amazing longevity reveals something quite profound, yet, in hindsight, simple: that innovation is not about novelty for the sake of it. It is about observing people, addressing an unmet need or, as Alessi puts it in an other part of the interview, touching “a customer’s dream“.
And there are dreams indeed that people dream all their lives, generation after generation. Even in a fast-pace world some innovations can stand the test of time.
You can read Alberto Alessi’s interview at McKinsey Quarterly.