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
I’m not a big fan of ideas. Sure, ideas are great — some of my best friends are ideas. But managers tend to let our national obsession about having new ideas distract them from the hard work of building good products and successful ventures around what are almost always old ideas. So it was fun to see the great design OXO have at a competitor who claimed to “own” an idea that both had built products around.
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.
Are our best efforts to bring the electric vehicle to market having the right effect? It’s important to remember that not all disruptive innovation is good, and not all good innovation is disruptive. Continue reading
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.
Just finished reading The Responsible Company, the second business book by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. His first, Let My People Surfing, laid out Chouinard’s personal path and the company’s history before spending the bulk of the book on the business philosophy of the small (roughly $400M) outdoor gear and apparel company. This second book establishes Chouinard’s voice and leadership in the new sustainable business movement—though he and co-author Vincent Stanley are quick to point out there’s no such thing as a truly ‘sustainable’ business.
If you’re thinking about starting something—or re-orienting your existing something—towards what matters to you, this book belongs on the stack on your desk. It’s a perfectly-timed counterbalance to the Jobs biography.
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 just returned from an engaging panel discussion on social entrepreneurship, at Darden’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research Conference. We were asked to speak on social entrepreneurship—a new field of venturing and venture investing, and a new and rapidly emerging curriculum in business schools across the country. I had to pose the question: If at this moment we are talking about entrepreneurship for the social good, what are we talking about, and teaching, when it’s just entrepreneurship?
It seems that the best strategy for a startup is longer a matter of if, or even when, but now how many times you pivot before you make it rich. Pivoting, a term the enterpreneur-turned-entrepreneurial sage Steve Blank recently popularized, now threatens to become the next business buzzword. Forget open innovation, what’s your pivot strategy? That’s dangerous.