Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Sunday, January 7, 2007day link 

 Innovation lessons
InnovationTools asked their readers what important lessons they had learned about innovation in 2006. Answers here. Some samples:
Never forget the power of questions. In a recent interview Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, said “We run the company by questions, not by answers.” Innovative leaders put the emphasis on questioning, not telling. Ask fundamental, challenging questions and encourage others to do the same. For example: “What business are we in? Why do customers buy our services? What is our real added value? Is there a better way to do this?” The style and type of questions matter. Don't ask aggressive, inquisitorial questions, such as: “What went wrong? Why did you screw up?” Instead, ask broad questions, like these: “What lessons can we learn? What are the opportunities for us here?” -- Paul Sloane

Put yourself out of business! If you fall too much in love with your own rhetoric (or haven't changed it too drastically in the past couple of years) you are doomed! Innovation isn't accomplished with one surefire system but with the freshening of your best practices. Put yourself out of business before a competitor or the staleness of your rhetoric gets boring. Look at competitors with pride instead of disdain, look at other categories for freshening processes or stimulus. Challenge the efficacy of your way of thinking, stay confident but poke holes in your most sacred beliefs, at least in the sanctity of your own office. Never stop changing, questioning, re-arranging. Comfort is not for the innovators - there should always be some tension, uneasiness with today's thinking, because tomorrow will be different and so should you. Just so you don't think I sound too preachy, I continue to learn these lessons the hard way by the way and probably will all of my life. -- Marco Marsan

Passion is the linchpin to innovation. "Innovation" is a big fat generic concept in most corporations... like "God" or "life on other planets" or "empowerment." Unless the individuals within a given corporation have a genuine sense of urgency, personal ownership and passion for innovation, nothing significant will happen. Innovation begins within the mind of each person. Corporate initiatives that don't awaken the basic human instinct to innovate within each individual will be doomed. For me, as an "innovation consultant," it has become increasingly clear that the short amount of time I have with my clients needs to be devoted to awakening the passion to innovate. Tools, techniques, theory, data, models and bibliographies are all fine, but it is the passion to innovate that is the key driver of success. No passion, no innovation. Plain and simple. Unfortunately, most organizations squash passion. That's why start ups have a much easier time innovating than Fortune 500 companies. Small companies are more human scale. There is more of a sense of community, more freedom, more experimentation, more fun, and more timely feedback. The best thing any one of us can do when we work with organizations is to hold up a giant mirror and ask our clients what they see. Are they modeling what it means to be innovative? Are they creating the kind of organizational culture that is conducive to innovation? Or are they asking other people to do what they themselves have not done? -- Mitch Ditkoff

[ | 2007-01-07 00:13 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Civil copyright disobedience
Lawrence Lessig delivered an excellent speech at the Chaos Communication Congress, which you can see here. He talked in part about if we don't succeed in changing copyright laws so that we can do the creative things we naturally do, like mash-ups, we can at least switch our preferences over to alternative systems, like obviously Creative Commons. If enough people just start preferring alternative licenses to 95 year locked-away copyrights, things will change. And to comment on Lessig's speech there's then an interview with John Perry Barlow. Who, in usual style says it more directly and poetically. Like, to answer the question of how we might succeed in crashing the old system:
If you wanna share something - share it. If you wanna use something - use it. Try to do so ethically in the sense that, you know, don’t take things without attribution, attribute. Make sure that the people who did create actually have the opportunity to get some enhanced reputation and thereby, you know, greater economic return. But, you know, pay no attention to these people when it comes to being creative. Go ahead and do the stuff that Larry showed in the beginning of his talk and do lots of it. And every time they put a lock on - break it. And every time they pass a new law - break that. You know. Sooner or later they’re dealing with such a massive level of civil disobedience that they have to address it. And that’s where we’re headed in a, I think, a hell of a hurry. I mean, you go to California and you drive down the 280, which is sort of the main artery of Silicon Valley and connects to San Francisco, and all those cars are going 85 mph where the speed limit is 65. But it’s a good road and there are good cars generally and they’re good drivers and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it. What are they gonna do? Arrest the entire highway? No. So the cops are right there cruising along with you at 85 mph. And that’s still against the law but nevertheless people have asserted the freedom to drive as fast as they think which is reliably safe under those circumstances. And we have to do the same thing.
Clearly and obviously. Oppressive and senseless laws only stay in place because most people willingly go along with them. They can't sue or arrest everybody, however many corrupt politicians they have on their side. They still need to make money, and the politicians still need to get re-elected, and if nobody buys their stuff and nobody votes for them, it just ain't happening.
[ | 2007-01-07 23:05 | 12 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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