“We can show mathematically that trial and error is 10 times more effective than knowledge.” – Nassim Taleb
A few days ago, I posted a valuable lesson of innovation. That learning, precedes innovation. When you think of big established companies, you immediately think R&D and how they use this capability to push it. Actually, R&D has nothing to do with pushing it. Especially, if it only leads to knowledge.
Think about it. Microsoft outspends Apple in R&D, yet Apple is the most valuable company in the world. Why is that?
“R&D spending does not ensure increased financial gains, nor does it guarantee innovation success,” said John Loehr, partner at Booz & Company. “Case in point: Apple, Google and 3M ranked 53rd, 26th, and 86th, respectively, in R&D spending.”
It isn’t that Apple has smarter scientists. I think it’s because Apple is very focused on what it does with that R&D knowledge. It has a very focused strategy, and it places it bets with laser focus.
The result: Apple is quicker at putting that knowledge to work (doing). And that is the point!
YouTube might be making everyone smarter, but it doesn’t mean we’re better for it. Because knowing, isn’t the same as doing. If you don’t put that knowledge to work, nothing happens. We may talk about making change, but if we don’t do anything about it; nothing happens. The same goes for when everyone is afraid to talk about how many times they’ve failed.
The most efficient die early
For the most part, business-as-usual equals every executive’s favorite word: efficiency. Yet in the pursuit for efficiency, innovation takes a back seat. More efficiency doesn’t exist. There is only so much you can squeeze from the same process. This is why I believe this notion of “___fill in the blank__ expert” should be abolished.
New roles, jobs, processes, products, services and the like are being created. Nobody is an expert. Expertise, just like ideas, have an expiration date. The trick is being aware of how close your expertise is at expiring. My advice: change before you need to.
Learning by doing
There is no innovation without experimentation. With that said, what we have to become experts at is transitioning (aka evolving). And to do that, we have to be ruled by trial and error. That means we have to embrace experimentation (exploration).
How can you embrace this mindset:
- Get good at learning to learn. Everyday, in your company, industry, customers, clients, something wrong happens. There is a moment of insight. There always is. And it is in these moments, that you build your capacity to learn faster. You learn from ongoing mistakes but you also learn from the mistakes you deliberately create. Don’t wait for things to break.
- Apply as fast as you learn. To really learn, you must apply. Otherwise, all you have is information. Not insight. Insight is what gives you focus and takes you places. Ask yourself: are you applying as fast as you are learning?
- Embrace real-time (emergent) strategy. Sure, there is some deliberate planning that goes in. But, not everything goes as planned. Most surprises, happen in the middle of those perfectly crafted plans. Educators in the top schools are learning this. People have access to many outlets of information. Education is emergent. Same goes for your strategy.
THE POINT: Aha! moments don’t just randomly happen, they happen through trial and error. They key, is to keep your eyes and ears open for anomalies and then taking action on that. This is one of the key lessons from Thursday’s #innochat: To innovate, commit to try!
Those who try things, do so thinking of what they might miss if they don’t try.