Archive for: May, 2014

Innovation lessons from Google’s self-driving car

google driverless car

A few days ago Google showed off their very own self-driving car. But unlike their first prototypes, which were custom rigged SUV’s and cars from known manufacturers, it isn’t built around a driver behind the wheel. Rather, it’s built around safety; without any driver.

Chris Urmson, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project said:

Is too much collaboration bad for innovation?

Is too much collaboration bad for innovation?

All great achievements came about through collaboration. But, sometimes too much collaboration inhibits our ability to think creatively.

Last week’s post about what impedes employees from being innovative in the workplace generated some discussion. My point that managers, meetings, emails and phone calls get in the way of inspiration was not well received because those are mechanisms we use to move ideas forward.

Yes, but most of the time you are not moving ideas forward because of those mechanisms. Rather, those mechanisms exist to keep “business-as-usual” in place.

We need different kinds of Silicon Valley not more Silicon Valleys

Here in the mexican border city of Tijuana there’s been constant discussion about how to collaborate with our next door neighbor San Diego. I’ve actually been advocating for this myself by co-founding Startup Weekend here a few years ago and also by arranging partnerships with partners in San Diego and a client in Tijuana to provide a service where co-working spaces in San Diego and Tijuana create a type of pass for their members where anyone can arrive at any participating co-working space; free of charge.

These initiatives were done with the intent of stimulating cross-border collaboration between entrepreneurs, but it hasn’t been without its challenges.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I attended a local conference about Silicon Valley and San Diego as innovation ecosystems. Tijuana, like San Diego, is creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem to call their own but an ongoing challenge is that the conversation always ends up with Silicon Valley as a model to follow.

What impedes employees from being innovative in the workplace?

 What impedes employees from being innovative in the workplace?

Much like the LinkedIn discussion that triggered it, last week’s post hit a nerve: can employees learn to be innovative?

A few people suggested we reframe the question to:

  • Can most employers learn how to stop blocking their employee’s innovative spirit?
  • How might employers let employees bring their passion to work?

There are many ways to look at it, and frankly I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Hard? Yes. Complicated? No.

Innovation begins in the heart

How diluted has the word innovation become that, on top of confusing it with anything new, we rationalize why we should innovate.

Here are a few:

  • Let’s innovate so we can grow our business, otherwise we won’t!;
  • Let’s innovate so we can eek out a little more revenue from existing products and services;
  • Let’s innovate so we can develop new revenue streams, new business, new products & services;
  • Let’s innovate so we can be competitive with the rest of the world;
  • etc..

I’m sure you’ve heard some version of these before, and there are more like these. The above rationalizations are correct, but does it get you fired up? I’m sure it doesn’t.

An indicator that all this rationalization it doesn’t work to spur action is how many people still ask themselves: what’s the point?

Why do you want to “innovate”? Seriously, think about it…

Is it because you’re embraced common rationalizations followed by everyone else who can’t think for themselves? If you are, it sounds to me like you are playing not to lose.

Anticipatory computing: Welcome to the Age of Efficiency

anticipatory computingTechnology powered by artificial intelligence is enhancing our daily routines; making us more efficient. Here are my thoughts on the coming Age of Efficiency.

Monitoring, tracking and anticipatory capabilities are the key functions offered by apps like Google Now that to do so require that we give them access to all of our data. A recent review of apps that aim to read our minds mentions a situation where tech pundit and author of The Age of Context, Robert Scoble, “won at life” because Google Now alerted him that one of his flights had a problem, it then showed him alternate flights to rebook; all through Google Now’s interface.