When we think about innovation, we tend to think of new ideas as the fuel that drives it, and ideas are certainly important. But I am convinced that they are in fact secondary, secondary to our ability to gain new insights and discover new ways to understand the world around us. Great innovators have [...]
Innovators are skilled value-creators and they accomplish that in some very specific ways. They possess certain cognitive and behavioral attributes that—when combined at a high level—produce staggering concentrations of value. This is obviously true of renowned inventors and entrepreneurs whose ideas have changed the world and often made them quite rich. It is also [...]
If I asked a group of innovation practitioners, “What are some ways to make the odds of achieving successful innovation more favorable?” I suspect I would get answers like: Look for some quick wins that are not too far from existing products, markets and capabilities. Be sure you’ve identified a legitimate unmet customer need. [...]
Iteration is not just about improving products and services and customer intelligence and profitability—as important as those things are. It’s about improving our thinking. What most distinguishes highly successful innovators from those who struggle, is their skill at systematically revising their own mental models—at iterating what’s happening inside their heads.
The ability to see things through your customers’ eyes is definitely not something everyone can do. Some, like Steve Jobs, have been quite good at it. Others, like Netflix, completely missed the mark. How well do you really understand and empathize with your customers? How do you know?
For fishers and innovators, the critical capability isn’t knowing how to fish or having all the answers; it’s knowing how to go about finding the fish and discovering the answers we need. There are a number of important lessons about innovation that can be taken from fishing. Continuing my last post...
Permit me to draw an analogy between fishing and innovation, one that I think provides some important insights. We’ve all heard the old saw about giving someone a fish versus teaching them to fish. But there’s an added level of expertise that goes beyond teaching someone to fish—and it’s the same kind of expertise that innovation requires.
Most of us spend our lives pursuing knowledge when what we really need is insight. Throughout our education and our careers we strive to learn things that we hope will bring us success. While knowledge is certainly important, a great insight will beat it every time.
We know from extensive research that idea generation can be enhanced—sometimes dramatically—by the in-the-room strategies that are employed. We’ve learned how to leverage our creativity by getting people to think in certain ways (and stop thinking in certain ways), by adopting a certain mindset, a mindset that produces measurably better outcomes. But what about the mindset outside the room? The same level of creativity and spontaneity, of improvisation and exploration that fuels those ideas in the first place, is needed throughout the innovation cycle...and is often lacking.
As we begin this new year, how personally committed to innovation are you? What are you dissatisfied with enough to muster the courage to change it? Which do you value more, serenity or courage?