Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Waiting For The Bus

January 24, 2015 Leave a comment

I’ve been following Scott Berkun for at least a decade. Every month or two, I mosey on over to his site to get my Berkun fix and see what he’s up to. I’ll read some of his blog posts and/or watch a video of one of his great talks.

While watching Scott’s lecture to MIT students on innovation, I paused the video to steal this insightful graphic:

tip of innovation

People (especially in western cultures) love short and sweet stories of epiphanies and overnight success – the tip of the iceberg. They yearn to believe that world changing innovations happen in flashes of instantaneous insight, no preparation required, all glory and no sweat.

Scott’s research for his Myths Of Innovation book busts the misconception of all mental play and no work. Oh sure, the epiphanies and eureka moments do indeed occur. But odds are that the innovator has been obsessing over a specific problem; immersing herself in the meticulous details of the problem and its enveloping context. The innovator has likely been exploring solution paths for months, years, or even decades. The hard, persistent, sustained, work of mulling over ideas prepares the innovator to receive the proverbial epiphany as thrust down upon her from the heavens.

But alas, doing the hard work can only get you to the bus stop. It doesn’t guarantee that the bus will arrive – ever.

Bus Stop

Set Your Mind On Fire

August 28, 2011 2 comments

One of my favorite authors on the topics of creativity and innovation, Scott Berkun, is about to hatch his fourth book: “Mindfire: Big Ideas For Curious Minds“.

Checkout the innovative way Scott is employing to launch the book: Kickstarter. Of course, I’ve signed up as a backer. Maybe you should too?

Berkun Myths

January 15, 2011 3 comments

Steven Johnson‘s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From“, seems to have garnered more accolades and publicity, but Scott Berkun‘s “The Myths Of Innovation” is also an insightful, well crafted, and surprising read on much-the-same topic. I haven’t read Steven’s book yet (it’s on my list), but I’ve read and enjoyed both editions of Scott’s book.

Here is Scott’s list of the 10 myths of innovation:

My faves are numbers 4, 6, and 7. Regarding number 4, one of my favorite quotes fits the bill:

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. – Howard Aiken

What are your faves? Are there any myths missing from the list? What do you think are the “truths” of innovation? Are they just the inverses of the list?

One-Two Punch Combo

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out this one-two punch combo on creativity and innovation (which fit together like hand and glove) that I randomly stitched together from Chris “The Long Tail” Anderson and Scott “Myths Of Innovation” Berkun:

Scary stuff, no? That’s why I think that the first and biggest obstacle to self-realization through the “create and innovate” dynamic duo is yourself, and not the inevitable downstream naysayers that will peck and gnaw away at your innards. Nevertheless, the second obstacle is huge too, especially if you work in a big, stuffy, corpricracy with an endless queue of risk-averse, (dis)approvers in the way.

Innovation Types

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

In the beginning of Scott Berkun’s delightful and entertaining “Managing Breakthrough Projects” video, Scott talks about two supposed types of innovation: product and process. He (rightly) poo-pooze away process innovation as not being innovative at all. Remember the business process re-engineering craze of the 90’s, anyone? Sick-sigma? Oh, I forgot that sick-sigma works. So, I’m sorry if I offended all you esteemed, variously colored belt holders out there.

According to self-professed process innovators, the process innovations they conjure up reduce the time and/or cost of making a product or performing a service without, and here’s the rub, sacrificing quality. Actually, most of the process improvement gurus that I’ve been exposed to don’t ever mention the word “quality”. They promise to reduce time to market (via some newfangled glorious tool or methodology) or cost (via, duh, outsourcing). Some of these snake oil salesmen dudes actually profess that they can  increase quality while decreasing time and cost.

The difference between a terrorist and a methodologist is that you can negotiate with a terrorist – Unknown

Most process improvement initiatives that I’ve been, uh,  lucky(?) to be a part of didn’t improve anything. That’s because the “improvements” weren’t developed by those closest to the work. You know, those interchangeable, fungible people who actually understand what processes and methods need to be done to ensure high quality.All that those highly esteemed, title-holding, mini-Hitlers did was saddle the value makers and service providers down with extra steps and paperwork and impressive looking checklists that took away productive time formerly used to make products and provide services.

Process improvement is a high-minded, overblown way of saying “kill the goose that laid the golden egg before it lays another one“.


March 24, 2010 2 comments

I work in the aerospace and defense industry. This industry is typically slow moving and not known for bleeding edge innovation. Thus, I was intrigued when I discovered that the MITRE corporation came in at number 30 in Fast Company magazine’s 2010 list of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. I scanned the list for other companies in the industry, but I (unsurprisingly) didn’t find any more industry stalwarts among the innovative elite.

In addition to the world class innovators, Fast Company also lists the top 10 innovative companies in a slew of industries, including the the defense business. Here is their list of innovators, subjectively decided by someone, or some group, at Fast Company.

  1. Mitre
  2. DARPA
  3. iRobot
  4. QinetiQ
  5. Northrup Grumman
  6. Raytheon
  7. Lockheed Martin
  8. Boeing
  9. Aurora Flight Services
  10. ATK

After reading the summary for each company, it appears that most money and brainpower are being invested in unmanned moving, sensor packed products like robots and aerial vehicles. For companies looking to branch out and explore new business opportunities, they may do well to invest in these areas and see if anything emerges.

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