Monday, February 24, 2014

The Innovation Myth

The Olympics have come and gone (seemingly with little fanfare). The popularity of the pinnacle of amateur sports may be waning because the events are not shown live in prime time. The "get there first" amateur journalists that flood social media make it impossible to enjoy anything that has already happened. No need to DVR the game or your favorite show... your unemployed uncle live tweeted it with a bong in his lap at 4am.

I, for one, was massively inspired by the 2014 Winter Olympic games. There are a millions lessons in humility and validation that result from training 4 years for a 4 minute event. There can be no glory without sacrifice. I found it all thrilling, even if the stories I watched were 12 hours old.

"You're all carpal tunnel and ADD" - Roger Greenberg, in reference to the technology generation

I love technology as much as Kip Dynamite but too much of anything becomes exhausting. We equate innovation with technology yet those existing off-the-grind are propelling forward with great efficiency. Any system can be gamed, with structure comes the ability to adapt (and pretend), and there is nothing revolutionary about representing another person's idea as your own.

The Art of Interaction
Our skill development concentrates too much on memorization (without application). Schools are too hung up on test scores while avoiding human interaction. Every individual performer who was promoted to a management position based only on the merit of their performance results has failed.

The turning point to innovation comes upon us when we realize we are asking the wrong questions. Its not about being better, its about being different.

Be Moved to Tears
The great Jimmy Valvano had the rare opportunity to deliver his own eulogy in 1993. One of his strongest recommendations was to be moved to tears every day. We get caught up in the day-to-day details that ignite our stress: reports, schedules, personal differences, one slide in a presentation, a line on a proposal. We get so head down in the nonsense that we forget the love that surrounds us. We pace the backyard porch while our children sit inside with their faces against the window waiting to be part of our lives.

There is inspiration everywhere: You Tube, sporting events, the cinema, the theater, a bar stool conversation. We tend to neglect stepping outside of our complex little insignificant worlds to breath the air that keeps us alive.

Cut Through the Static
We put so much strategy into guessing. What will our customers say? What will the market dictate? What's the next great product? Guessing is a fools game. Pick up the phone, get to the source, and figure it out!

There is so much technology to automate humanity. This takes the chance out of things. Chance creates opportunity and is ultimately the gateway to new things. Innovation is not a technical process, it's the ability to discover a new frontier. Today, the forgotten frontier is one to one conversation.

Don't Forget to Remember!



  1. Innovation is more than creating cool objects. It applies to business models, networks, systems, processes, services, channels, customer experiences and more.