Innovate only when and Where You Have To.

Jim McKelvey (founder of Square) advises that bias should be toward the minimum amount of innovation: innovate when and where you have to, in those places where innovation is the only viable option. Copy where you can, McKelvey says; innovate where you must.

This seemingly runs counter to the typical corporate messaging that innovation is an imperative, to say nothing of the trend for establishing innovation labs. But, McKelvey's point is that innovation effort should be expended where it will matter most. Start-ups should copy what they can easily copy, but innovate in the spaces where there is actually no other option "Copying is almost always the right answer," he writes, "but it will never produce transformative change."



  • McKelvey, Jim. The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. New York: Portfolio, 2020.