Category Archives: Innovation Behavior

Teenagers in Our Midst: Why Are World Class Innovators So Surly?

With the passing of Steve Jobs and with it recent reminders of how not only bright and creative, but arrogant and obnoxious he could be, I got to thinking: Why are great innovators at times so insufferable? Continue reading

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Innovation’s Holy Grail

Under Steve Jobs, Apple became what by almost all accounts has been the most successfully innovative company in the world. Now Apple faces what may be an even more daunting challenge: continuing with that innovation success without Steve Jobs. Isn’t that innovation’s Holy Grail? Isn’t that what the whole field of innovation is trying to figure out: how to build an organization that can produce the kind of success of an Apple…without having a world class genius at the helm? I have some hunches as to how… Continue reading

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Innovation Essentials: Which Direction is Your Flywheel Turning?

In his acclaimed bestseller, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about what he calls the “Flywheel Effect.” He describes how small actions and decisions, made over a period of time, add up to sustained momentum and success for great companies—like small nudges building momentum on a flywheel. I agree and riffing on his metaphor, I would add that our flywheel can be turning in either direction. It’s possible that a series of seemingly small decisions and incremental actions can gradually undermine our success. So the key question becomes: Which direction is your flywheel turning?

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Innovation Essentials: Persistence is Overrated

There’s a prevalent and long-perpetuated myth about innovators, that they are persistent; they don’t give up. Renowned innovators like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison have even said it of themselves, crediting their success in part on their persistence. But it’s at best a poor choice of words and at worst a fundamental misunderstanding of what innovation entails, even by some of its best practitioners. Continue reading

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Innovation Case Study: Sliced Bread

“The greatest thing since sliced bread,” implies a kind of automatic acceptance that wasn’t true then and isn’t now.

As someone who embraces innovation, it pains me to say it but apparently some things don’t change, at least not very much. Winning acceptance of any new idea is far from automatic. Continue reading

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The Trouble With Facts

“There are no facts about the future.”

I don’t know who first said that, but I keep coming across it lately and I agree. It’s not possible to draw factual conclusions about things that haven’t happened yet (although that doesn’t stop us from trying)…which raises an interesting question: How useful are facts in evaluating innovative ideas? Continue reading

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Always On Innovation

If we want sustained robust innovation in our companies and economies, at the very least we need to stop treating our creativity like something with an on/off switch. We need to recognize creativity as the sustained cognitive function it is and the sustained business function it needs to become…always on. Continue reading

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America’s Greatest Innovators

On this Independence Day here in the U.S. there is perhaps no more appropriate time to be writing about innovation. Our founding fathers (and less-credited founding mothers) were unquestionably among the greatest innovators of all time. Continue reading

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Two Ways to Think About Innovation

People in the wrong frame of mind can undermine even the most thoughtfully designed innovation processes. Folks in the right frame of mind can overcome many imperfections in those processes. Systems and processes are important in business, but they’re no substitute for enhancing the way people think. Continue reading

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Innovative Thinking and Defensive Driving

The way we drive (or should drive) is a good analogy for innovative thinking. Like a alert driver, great innovators are those who can see problems coming, who have a heightened sense of awareness and possibility. This is not just an on demand capability, but a sustained frame of mind. They’re proactively looking for potential improvements they can make and problems they can avoid. Continue reading

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