Archive for: August, 2014

Interview: My thoughts on the power of innovation

A few months ago I was interviewed by Media Shower about my thoughts on innovation. Here are the questions and my answers about the origin of the Game-Changer blog, my background, how companies can foster free thinking and the development of new ideas, recruit creative thinkers and how anyone can learn to think innovatively.

New ideas are necessary, but not sufficient for innovation

It’s not the idea, it’s what you do with it. Design an organization that is both competent at generating and executing effective ideas.

For all the research and literature that exists about innovation, ideas still take up the vast majority of the attention as the leading factor behind successful innovations. Because ideas are the sexy part of innovation, many believe that a novel idea is an innovation itself; it is not. More importantly, just because something is novel doesn’t mean it will win in the marketplace.

Do ideas matter?

It’s hard to get excited about incremental ideas

Most of what is called innovation is incremental in nature. Meaning, an improvement on something that already exists. This is innovating within a known box. Microsoft is company that is the poster boy for this type of behavior. It’s a shame because they invest a lot of money on R&D but not much of its inventions become innovations.

Except for the XBOX and Kinect, in the last decade or so, many of its products have been plain vanilla copies of other products that reached the market first. Why the XBOX? Because it was a product of intrapreneurship within Microsoft.

Right now intrapreneurship is a hot topic and a rich source of potential advantage for corporations. In a recent Innochat session we touched on some of the points about intrapreneurship: Being an intrapreneur.

Large consultancies have also taken notice, as recent study by Accenture about developing an entrepreneurial culture found that:

True innovation makes competition irrelevant

I often use the quote “Never innovate to compete, innovate to change the rules of the game” to express the mindset of a true innovator. You see, I detest copycats. I pay attention to maverick companies, not the ones that merely implement some framework to put themselves in a position to innovate.

Then, our culture likes to pit companies against each other because it’s the type of  stuff that grabs headlines; unfortunately most can’t see beyond the bias.

And though competition breeds innovation, sometimes it does bring out the best in everyone, most of the supposed “innovation” that copycats bring to the table is nothing more than mere superficial increments. Or in the case of Mexico; a tropicalized version of the original product or service.

For me, innovation makes competition irrelevant. Anywhere. Period.

To understand why being a true innovator is so hard, it is wise to understand what true innovators do and what non-innovators do. There are is an endless list of books, blog posts, articles, whitepapers and talks about the distinction between innovation and competition. Futurist Daniel Burrus has thought long and hard about the difference between competers and innovators, here’s a comparison:

What is the biggest innovation challenge for leaders of large organizations?

What is the biggest innovation challenge for leaders of large organizations?

Understanding and accepting the innovation equation:

Innovation = reducing errors + increasing insights

Via Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights (Kindle):