As I’ve mentioned before, people often think entrepreneurship is a one-idea, one-shot game: you have a great idea and you pursue it until it makes you rich or makes you run back home. That’s a shame because it keeps people from exploring entrepreneurship as a career. It’s like thinking only rock stars can have careers in music. In truth, most entrepreneurs take part in multiple startups before launching their own, and they play many different roles besides the rock star. Continue reading
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster provides a great example of the educational value inherent in making mistakes. And, since the only thing that comes close to learning from failure is learning from other people’s failures, this is a great interview where he shares the main mistakes he made in his first company. Continue reading
Baked into most stories of technology revolutions is the misconception that new technologies disrupt older ones because of some distinctive advantage. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. From the light bulb to the computer to solar power, the fate of innovations (and of the companies that bet on them) hinges less on technical superiority than on the details of their designs. When developing new products, the challenge is to balance performance with the need to be accepted.
Innovation is hard, but sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. It’s a lesson we could all use, but especially big companies betting millions on sustaining innovations. Continue reading
What’s your innovation strategy?
The question often stumps executives, who tend to think innovation is something outside the normal work routines, not something that can and should be directed. Yet how much of your company’s strategic plan depends on innovation — on the development of new products, new processes, or (often) both — that will provide tomorrow’s competitive advantage? Continue reading
The valley of death is an hackneyed term used to describe where startups run out of money. This can be solved, early earlier-stage investors and policy-makers contend, by giving them more money. I’ve argued before this is misguided. The reason why is a cautionary tale to anyone leading a new venture.
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.