Innovation notes and thoughts

As a child, I was very much mathematical, logical and disciplined. My natural tendencies towards impulsiveness and passionate outbursts were channeled into socially acceptable (even desirable) vehicles, methods and mechanisms. As time has passed, I have grown more expressive, more biased (hell, today design is everything) and more intuitive, and has probably hindered my studies of psychology, law and business, yet impelled me towards the pursuit of personal genius, innovation and entrepreneurship.

They’re fun!!!

I came across a few articles that I decided to take notes from, and wondered if your notes would match up…

  • Connecting the Dots between Innovation and Leadership
    • Leadership + Innovation = Cool stuff… but how do we create it?
      • An insurer said it was about aligning the whole organisation (especially the oft-forgotten support staff like lawyers and financial officers) behind matching customer needs with the organisation’s systems, processes and activities… ie marketing. Being a leader denies you the opportunity to be a “Fast Follower” and try to copy the innovations of others; you have to be leading consumer behaviour.
      • Big is not necessarily better. Throwing more resources at a dead end doesn’t help… small teams will often do the best work.
      • Cultivate an innovative culture by rewarding and expecting innovation. Challenge people to reinvent themselves.
      • Passion is good, and often is the result of feeling a sense of ownership over the work that you do.
      • Capitalise on opportunities by being ready to act – fast.
    • Should you buy or build innovation?
      • If you build it, there’s a better chance of it matching the existing culture, and will help keep the organisation flat… though sometimes a highly targeted ‘rifle shot’ acquisition can work.
      • Select targets that have complimentary skills; where they’re great at something that fit with what you’re generally good at, but haven’t developed as highly in that arena.
    • India and China?
      • According to the panel, they’re great copiers, but haven’t really started innovating yet. Eg Chinese developers use international architectural firms to design the skins of buildings, though aren’t really innovating much beyond this.
      • In biotech, Indian innovation is suffering from poor intellectual property protection leading to decreased rewards for innovation and a consequential lack of investment. That’s changing though…
      • China and India are very different: We can’t just apply what works here! Take the time to get to know them.
      • There are huge opportunities for using India for clinical trials of new drugs. Their massive patient population is yet to be meaningfully tapped…
    • Managers need to remain fixated on customers (and social issues: cultural, generational) to keep in tune with customers and open to gain insights for innovation… (though disruptive innovation relies upon giving people things that they don’t yet realise that they’ll want)
    • Great innovators bring together technical skills with people skills.
    • Turn failures into success…
    • Execution is critical. Great ideas are cheap…
    • Business leaders change the world. Beyond dividends, business provides jobs and advancement to would-be terrorists… to give people a sense of hope makes the world better for everybody. This necessitates companies to act responsibly in building companies of integrity.
    • Part of innovation is being open to doing stuff when you have no idea what you’re doing.
      Peter Linnemann, Wharton finance professor.
    • Everyone wants the golden path. How you get there… is by doing a great job at what you’re doing. Stay in the moment instead of worrying about that next job.
      Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank America
    • You cannot really work hard at something that you don’t love, and you’re not going to succeed if you don’t work hard.
      Jeffrey Katz, CEO of Sherwood Equities
  • The Biggest Mind-Flip in Business Today
    • There is nothing more powerful than a truly original idea… something that redefines an industry or transforms a product category. Thought leadership through generating better ideas and making smarter improvements gives sustained advantage.
    • Entrepreneurial folklore gives the credit to the inspired visionary CEO, but the modern world is too complex: We need to develop teams of people who can work in parallel to be more creative than any single individual could be. This is expensive through the transactional costs of dealing with teams, but it’s potentially infinitely more powerful.
    • We need to create an architecture of participation – where contributing your ideas for problem solving and product development is fun (or at least interesting), easy and rewarding.
    • We’re talking about collective intelligence here… that comes from a different leadership style, one where the leader seeks to exude charisma, strength and intellectual humility, to be the sort of person with whom smart people will share their ideas, want to work with and contribute ideas, and to be as open and transparent as the other participants in their work.
  • Learning to Innovate
    • Business schools tend to teach how to teach ‘business-as-usual’. This is important in running successful businesses, though innovation requires people who are Masters of Business-by-Design. Stanford’s d.school has already started it… I wonder how long until the rest of us figure out that we need to design the way forward, rather than just measure what we’re doing.
    • Analysing a business situation is very different from how to create and execute a business innovation. A bunch of Stanford kids were asked to design a way forward for the web browser Mozilla. While the b-school kids would likely have used market size driven financial analyses to generate, develop and complete a new product idea. Instead, the design school was approached: They started with an ethnographic study of consumers and worked towards creating prototypes with potential features, iteratively returning with a succession of potential winners.
    • Without execution, great ideas are worth nothing… yet without ideas, brilliant execution gets outsourced.

While I continue to lament that despite his repetitive writing style, de Bono still ‘owns’ the concept of lateral thinking and even ‘creativity’ for a lot of people. But, in my view, his book on Value Medals is worth checking out if you want to think a little beyond the ‘bottom line’…

One comment on “Innovation notes and thoughts

  1. I have known you for many years Dan and you have a desire and passion for quality and professionalism which are sterling attributes. Indeed your very energies and enthusiasm I believe are valuable and your contribution certainly needed in today’s world. I think your thoughts are very encouraging to help people think and explore themselves and unlock any potential they have within them. Sorry for being side tracked but I felt it an opportunity to say what I truly believe

    Garry

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