Taking the Initial Risk

Fitness Landscape: Seeking Opportunity & Taking the Risk

Microsoft has invested time and expenses in a variety of different areas of the computer industry ranging from Operating Systems to software and applications to server models. Offering a diverse array of products for its customers frames Microsoft as an innovative company that employs robust adaptive strategies. According to Eric Beinhocker, the author who made the connection between a fitness landscape and business strategy, robust adaptive strategies are ways in which a complex system or business can maintain competitive advantage (Beinhocker 2). The strategies can be explained by the means of a fitness landscape model shown below.

The Fitness Landscape: a brief explanation

The peaks represent different projects and initiatives.

Exhibiting robust strategies generally entails investment in diversity in research and risk management, while continuously seeking new opportunities.

According to the Beinhocker, investing in diversity requires short , medium , and long "jump" (from peak-to-peak) on the fitness landscape when innovating. The distance of the jumps are analagous to the amount of risk and return involved with the new initiative.


What kind of jump was .NET for microsoft?

The Fitness Landscape shifted with the emergence of the Internet, providing new opportunities for Microsoft.

  • In the late 1990s, one of Microsoft's peaks was the internet browser, leading to the creation of Internet Explorer
  • Investing in the .NET Framework was a medium jump . It was extremely risky but not a long jump because Microsoft has already begun research on the internet with its web browser in 1998. In fact, .NET began as a FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) operation for Microsoft because it was a big risk and did not guarantee any success (.NET Development 6).
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