Innovation: You have to own it before you can do it

If I were to tell you that you can’t innovate, would you try to prove me wrong? If your customers were to tell you that they will leave you because you can’t exceed their expectations, would you commit to exceeding them?

What if your customers suddenly became immune to your marketing speak? What if they suddenly stopped moving toward your preferred outcome every time you nudge them?

What if your customers offered to help you exceed expectations? Would you take their offer?

It’s such a cliche, but what is lacking in the innovation arena is accountability. Unless you take pride and are more than willing to bite the bullet and be held accountable, nothing will happen. It is important to understand that not all cultures are created equal, some are born great but most have to work at it.

It is rare to come across people and/or organizations who “own the outcome”. A friend of mine forwarded me an email from the company Startup Plays. I think it is a great example of what happens when you forget “your why” but come back to your senses:

From: The StartupPlays Team [] Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 6:24 AM
Subject: We screwed up… sorry
We screwed up.

Recently we lost sight of why we launched

We’ve been so busy building – and selling – plays that we lost sight of why we launched startupplays in the first place – to help serious entrepreneurs build epic startups. We didn’t want to be a startup that “churned” out mediocre content, sent out “spammy” emails (you know the ones chalk full of headlines like “learn to code in 24hrs!”), or spend our days trying to convince people to buy stuff. Ugh!

But when we looked in the mirror, we saw that’s what we were doing. We were focusing more on our success than on your success.

And we’re very sorry.


One of the decisions we made – which we still believe in, but poorly communicated – was to move the actual play experience from startupplays to This was confusing for a lot of people (understandably!), and you can read more about why we did it on our blog. But the short version is that we’re experts at finding the best entrepreneurs in the world and turning their experience and knowledge into a process for startups. We’re great at finding world-class mentors and connecting them with startups. And we’re awesome at promoting startups to the press and the world. In short, we’re a content and service company. But the actual play experience – how you interact with the content – is an application. And we get hundreds of people who want to use the application for everything from organizing closets to training naturopathic doctors.

So we’ve created an application team and we will be making an application for step-by-step guides (much like a kindle) that is an amazing experience on your computer, your tablet, your phone. And the platform will be available for anyone to create guides and setup their own marketplace of guides with their content or other author’s content.


We’re making sure that StartupPlays is the ultimate resource for founders who hustle. Here’s what we’re doing:

1. We just launched a new website with an interactive startup roadmap that helps you stay focused on key deliverables based on the stage of your startup.

2. We reorganized the play marketplace based on the stage of your startup and improved the layout so you can preview plays and provide more feedback.

3. We are launching some epic plays over the next month by uber-successful entrepreneurs – many of them for free – and reviewing all of our existing plays to make sure they are top quality.

4. We will stop sending you spammy emails. We have rebuilt our emails chalk-full of amazing tips and resources for founders – and we’ll be reaching out to you with quality gems to help you succeed.

5. We’re just finishing a massive overhaul of the startup accelerator network with some amazing mentors to help inspire you, provide critical feedback, and support you as you grow your business.

6. At the end of the month we’ll be launching a “Startups for Startups marketplace” where you can promote and sell your apps to other startups. We need to support each other and this is a request that we receive a lot.

7. We’ll continue to publish our 35 startups that TechCrunch missed which has helped many startups get covered by major publications (the next one is tomorrow – be sure to check it out!)


In short, we’re sorry. But we’re committed to make it up to you by hustling more than ever to help you succeed. I hope you’ll forgive us and let us make it up to you.


The StartupPlays Team

Scott, Franco, Mike, Tyler, and Pat

(PS – remember, you can access all of your plays at

(PPS – if you can’t forgive us, you can unsubscribe here – but we hope you’ll give us one more chance)

It makes Apple’s recent apology seem pale in comparison.

Innovation is the ONLY thing that creates value

As we’ve discussed before, innovation is value creation. And when nobody owns “value creation”, your business will shrink and die.

Like Startup Plays, are you committed to staying relevant, or are you committed to losing touch with your customers?


The point: Innovation is the ONLY thing that creates value. But ultimately, you have to own it before you can do it.

So, who owns transformation at your company? Who owns resilience? Who owns value creation? If it’s everyone, congratulations. You are a part of a special few.

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