We should honor our inventors and perhaps we don’t do that enough, but having an original idea is just one early step toward successful innovation. We rightly and very pragmatically withhold our thanks and praise until we can see a clear benefit...
We hear a lot these days about mass customization as a consumer trend, about how technology now allows us to mass produce products that are customized to the needs and desires of individual consumers. So, why stop with consumer products? To fuel innovation, we need to be talking about mass customization...of people.
What’s your personal theory of knowledge? Is it something that gives you answers or possibilities? Of course, the short answer is, “Yes.” But if you had to choose, if you had to state a preference, I suspect you could, and for many it would be: answers. Not that most of us have given this a great deal of thought. It’s what’s known as an implicit theory, a largely subconscious belief, but one that nonetheless impacts how we think and behave—and how well we innovate.
With the passing of Steve Jobs and with it recent reminders of how not only bright and creative, but arrogant and obnoxious he could be, I got to thinking: Why are great innovators at times so insufferable?
Under Steve Jobs, Apple became what by almost all accounts has been the most successfully innovative company in the world. Now Apple faces what may be an even more daunting challenge: continuing with that innovation success without Steve Jobs. Isn’t that innovation’s Holy Grail? Isn’t that what the whole field of innovation is trying to figure out: how to build an organization that can produce the kind of success of an Apple…without having a world class genius at the helm? I have some hunches as to how...
I’m hard pressed to think of any innovation that benefited only its creator. It seems to me that innovation by definition must benefit someone else, or it has no real value…but there are exceptions (unfortunately).
Innovation is an inherently emergent process. It’s not just about where we want to end up; it’s highly dependent on where we are. Where we begin has a profound impact on where we can go.
There’s a prevalent and long-perpetuated myth about innovators, that they are persistent; they don’t give up. Renowned innovators like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison have even said it of themselves, crediting their success in part on their persistence. But it’s at best a poor choice of words and at worst a fundamental misunderstanding of what innovation entails, even by some of its best practitioners.
What most distinguishes the innovation high performers from the less innovative is not some indiscernible secret sauce of mental faculties. What distinguishes them is their mindset. That is to say: their attitudes, assumptions and beliefs—their mental models—about how the world works. These mental models are often subconscious. Yet they can have a huge impact on someone’s behavior and therefore how well they perform—and innovate.
We now live in a world in which not only our economic future, but our future security rests in large part on our creativity, our capacity to innovate. It’s yet another reason why strengthening our competence as innovators is such an imperative.