Archive for: April, 2011

Is it possible to innovate without loving what you do?

I spotted this question on a Linkedin group and thought I post it here.

My answers is: Yes, it’s possible.

Interestingly, HBR posted an article about why you shouldn’t do what you love last week. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already.

Here’s the thing about innovation:

Most people who are considered innovative don’t really set out to ‘innovate’. They set out to solve a problem they have/saw because they either see nobody doing anything about it, or they are personally dissatisfied.

Problem finding: even emulation requires brains

A few years ago I was advising three guys who wanted to start a t-shirt company business in Mexico. These guys were still in college and were studying graphic design.

In Mexico there is a brand called Naco that started a trend of inverting words so something like AC/DC looks like AISI/ DISI. People found this funny and so these shirts started selling like hot cakes.

This idea has since been copycatted a million times over.

Innovation posts of the week: Innovation for real growth

Defying Categorization by @nilofer

10 Divergent Strategies – Break through the Box! by @RobynMcMaster

How Hot Is Your Next Innovation? – HBR

Enhanced by Zemanta

Imagination: one of the most important qualities of an innovator

Kid pretending to be superman

If one of the most important qualities of an innovator is the ability to imagine, it is hardly surprising that children should be among the world’s most important innovators.


A few days ago I was on a train when a mom and her two children (both girls about 5 and 7 years old) sat next to me. One of the girls (the 5 year old) asked the other: What phone number do you want when you grow up?

The other girl gave her answer. It was looong number.

This whole interaction brought a smile to my face. To a typical adult, this is a kid being a kid. Asking dumb questions. But if we want to innovate, these are precisely the types of questions we should be asking and the type of ‘what if’ attitude we should be encouraging and practicing.

Imagine if we could choose our own phone number. Wouldn’t it be cool? This attitude brings up all kinds of questions and interesting thoughts. Just imagine if we could personalize our whole life.

What if our clothes, cars and everything we use daily would be personalized for us?

We could go on and on with this exercise and find all kinds of ideas that we could turn on their head. The point is to think without constraints and let your imagination free. Ask yourself, why, what if and why not.

Every once in awhile think like a kid and start asking dumb questions, the world needs you to.

A lesson from Apple on reputation

Apple is once again telling the world that it’s a User Experience company that just so happens to make consumer electronic products. Apple is reportedly working on a way to sync iPods with iTunes wirelessly. It’s just another step in Apple’s steady march toward making wires and cords a thing of the past.

A few days ago I was making room behind my desk for the laptop, external HDD and speaker wires. As I was rearranging I started pondering how long it would take until we live in a world without wires and who would take us there.

My first thought was Apple.

What I find interesting, is that if any other ‘consumer electronics company’ would set out to eliminate wires, it probably would not be a big deal. You kind of get the idea that if Microsoft would be the first to remove wires from our lives, that they would screw it up in some way. Therefore eliminating our excitement for the ‘new experience’.

Because we know Steve Jobs to be a perfectionist, we know and trust that Apple will deliver the goods. The new experience.

And we actually want Apple to be the one to do it. Not Microsoft. Not HP. Not Dell.



Because their reputation precedes them in the area of creating great consumer products that are as much about the experience we have as what we use them for. It is this reputation that sets them apart. It is now hardwired onto our brains that Apple creates the best consumer electronics products period.

Heck, some of us are starting to wish they should start making cars just for fun.

User experience is all about removing obstacles. Eliminating extra steps that don’t add any value. Apple is a user experience champion. They own it.

They’ve become the ‘most’ at delighting and exciting us with their products. This is key.

Like Fast Company founder, Bill Taylor, says:

You can’t be “pretty good” at everything anymore. You have to be the most of something: the most affordable, the most accessible, the most elegant, the most colorful, the most transparent. Companies used to be comfortable in the middle of the road — that’s where all the customers were. Today, the middle of the road is the road to ruin. What are you the most of?

With that said, we would all do well and learn from Apple and begin thinking about what we want to be known for. Because if we get to such a place, this is where Greatness is forged.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Fail Harder

fail harder

Ad house Wieden+Kennedy created the above mural. Over 100,000 thumbtacks were used over 351 hours to create this typographic mural that spells out Fail Harder, a message that underlines the importance of failure during the creative process.

First time I saw this mural was on the movie Art and Copy, which I watched again a few hours ago. I felt inspired to post it here and share it with you!

Here’s to the crazy ones 🙂

Enhanced by Zemanta