An innovation is a type of competitive advantage (though not all competitive advantages are innovations) and the strategic job is to make that competitive advantage sustainable over time1, to maintain the advantage as a bulwark against competition. Mechanisms to deter or slow imitation are called, colloquially, moats.
Moats draw their power to prevent imitation from one of four basic sources:
- The state,
- Special know-how,
- Scale, or
- System rigidity.