The Book Look: Continuous Innovation

Arent van ‘t Spijker’s first book, The New Oil was an enlightening and enjoyable read about how data is changing the way our organizations need to operate. Arent’s second book, very recently released, is titled Continuous Innovation.

This newest release has maintained the high standard of being filled with valuable messages while also being very enjoyable to read.

This book focuses on how organizations need to innovate for both survival and growth. I like that it is not just a book on what organizations need to do, but it also includes a lot of content on how to innovate— including weaving innovation with strategy and culture. I love reading the many studies and the historical basis for innovation. I also find the stories very engaging, such as this story about the ups and downs at the Financial Times.

This is a subset of Chapter 1, reprinted with permission from the publisher. The story builds before this and continues after this, yet there are important messages within these paragraphs:


By 2006, the proverbial excrement had come into contact with the ventilator at The Financial Times (FT). In just five years, advertising income had dropped by almost 25%. Traditionally, advertising had generated three-quarters of the annual income, now it was down to half. Subscription rates were also dropping dramatically, giving way to free online financial news. The epitome of the British banker in pin-striped suit and bowler hat had been surpassed by a whiz kid with a laptop in a hoodie.

To John Ridding (the newly-appointed CEO of the Financial Times) and Lionel Barber (who had been the Editor for less than a year), it was clear that a radical change was required to turn the tide. In July 2006, the board announced the “New Newsroom” project, with the aim to integrate the print publication more closely with its online presence and in the process cut 10% of the editorial staff.

Although criticized by many as a traditional ‘laying off’ response to digital disruption, the decision made more than just economic sense. The project heralded the first significant attempt to innovate ‘the newspaper’ itself. The Financial Times were changing.

The change that Ridding set out to achieve would mark not only a turning point for the paper but would become an example of how incumbent businesses can turn digital disruption into a competitive advantage against its very disruptors. To do so, the Financial Times would have to do more than generate more traffic than Yahoo! It would have to innovate its way out of trouble.

In 2007, the was the first newspaper to implement a metered paywall, a system in which online readers are allowed to read a certain number of articles on the site for free, and then requires them to pay. The move was controversial and was fiercely debated. Many viewed the paywall as a sign that the Financial Times was stuck in old-fashioned methods. After all, the Internet offered all content for free.

Why would anyone want to pay for articles on when Yahoo! Finance offered them at no cost? But in the mind of Ridding, the paywall was not designed to keep non-paying readers away from, it was a great way to get new, loyal customers in. By signing up for metered access, readers provided with valuable personal data and an exceptional mechanism to track their personal behavior and interests that far outweighed Yahoo!’s clickstream data.

I hope you find this book enjoyable as well and wishing you a fantastic 2020!

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Steve Hoberman

Steve Hoberman

Steve Hoberman has trained more than 10,000 people in data modeling since 1992. Steve is known for his entertaining and interactive teaching style (watch out for flying candy!), and organizations around the globe have brought Steve in to teach his Data Modeling Master Class, which is recognized as the most comprehensive data modeling course in the industry. Steve is the author of nine books on data modeling, including the bestseller Data Modeling Made Simple. Steve is also the author of the bestseller, Blockchainopoly. One of Steve’s frequent data modeling consulting assignments is to review data models using his Data Model Scorecard® technique. He is the founder of the Design Challenges group, Conference Chair of the Data Modeling Zone conferences, director of Technics Publications, and recipient of the Data Administration Management Association (DAMA) International Professional Achievement Award. He can be reached at

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