A trade-off between conformity and differentiation is the key to successful innovations

What determines the success of an innovation is rarely its intrinsic quality, its technical or economic performance. The graveyards are full of “brilliant” innovations that were not successful. The success of an innovation rather depends on its capacity to conform to the existing institutional framework in order to be accepted. But how do you stay different if you conform? This difficult trade-off determines the success or failure of the innovation. A historical example is that of Thomas Edison in his promotion of electric lighting over gas.