Ideas are overrated. I’ve said this before, but I just ran across this quote from Isaiah Berlin, describing Leo Tolstoy’s approach to understanding war and history. If we take his meaning to heart, we could all be better students of innovation.
Innovation is about making the possible desirable and the desirable possible. But which direction innovation takes depends in large part on what choices we have when it comes to expressing those desires and who wants to control those choices. Continue reading
The SacBee today has a nice description of MicroMidas, UCD and Child Family Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship alum: Micromidas plans to turn cardboard into oil substitute.
A recent Kauffman report offers new and valuable insights into where venture-driven growth comes from. Literally. Not from what attributes of social media founders or which San Francisco coffee shops, but rather which sectors of the economy and which regions of the country. The findings are surprising and important for entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business, and policymakers thinking of helping them.
WSJ had a nice section recently on understanding entrepreneurs, Why Washington Has It Wrong on Small Business. In it, Professor Aaron Chatterji from Duke talks about how job growth comes from high-growth, not low-growth startups (companies younger than 5 years old). This insight mistakes hindsight for foresight but, more importantly, it puts the entrepreneurial cart before the horse.
The catch phrase of the Republican National Convention, “We Built It,” was a staged response to a strategically clipped quote from a speech by President Obama. As part of the government versus business debate, it has hopefully run its course. But as a lesson on innovation, it feels like a missed opportunity.
I submit for your consideration, five words that I'm beginning to think kill innovation in organizations. Use them at your own peril.
Target Panic. What a great diagnosis. As soon as a read the term, I knew I’d suffered from it. Have you? Looking back, I can now see it in the would-be entrepreneurs and innovators I’ve worked with who, despite promising ideas and heroic efforts, never made much progress.
Most of the advice for entrepreneurs that is floating around these days is focused on the 0.5% who are building venture capital-backed companies and furiously pivoting away in hopes of being the next Instagram. The overwhelming majority of new ventures, however, live in a different world with different rules. Gravity applies, so does the need for profitability, cash flow, paying customers, employees, and lines of credit. And regardless of what the meia tell you, this is where America actually produces most jobs. So it was great to see Jay Goltz, writing for the New York Times, offer his list of 10 Rookie Mistakes for Entrepreneurs.
I recently ran across this list while reading about the challenges faced by John Maeda as he moved from software engineer and computer scientist to President of the Rhode Island School of Design. It reminded me that not all of design, in education and in work, can be neatly packaged and served to managers in a sound bite like ‘design thinking.’ I’m reprising here the list written by Wieden+Kennedy’s Executive Creative Director, John C. Jay of 10 lessons for young designers: