Archives For Innovation

I feel that in 2016 we find ourselves on the precipice of so many major technology-driven transformations that it was impossible for someone like myself not to be overly self-indulgent in better understanding the many trends and their driving forces. If you appreciate the magnitude of what’s coming, you’ll understand I chose the term ‘precipice’ for good reason. Life in 10 to 20 years will be quite different than it is now. Though it may seem to some in 2025 0r 2035 that the evolution was gradual, the impact will probably be lumpy to many.

As has been the case with previous tech driven change, there will be positive and negative impacts, but I believe that the impacts will be felt more soundly by wide swaths of the population than in prior times. Imagine what life will be like the day after cancer is cured. Imagine how many drivers will lose their profession once self-driving vehicles become the norm. Imagine how good you will feel when a high performance pill is taken that has been personalized to your genetic makeup. Imagine the financial markets when the world turns to the bitcoin currency standard. Imagine the perfect prime rib steak being grown in a lab without the collateral damage of bovine methane that contributes to global warming. Imagine the townspeople arriving with their pitchforks as described by Nick Hanauer if economic disparity is left to grow unmanaged. Imagine being able to solve almost any problem perfectly by buying some cheap AI over the web. Then imagine the person who you used to pay to solve that problem wondering what they are going to do for income and how they will pay off the loans on their PHD.

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After the light bulb flashes an epiphany about a new product, service, or solution the next step for me is invariably a stream of consciousness document that captures ideas as they enter my consciousness.

These are normally led by the beauty of the business model and why it would work in today’s economy. There are various frameworks that I rely upon,

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Two years ago, on December 3, 2012 I published a post that posited the world’s true innovations are only possible due to inspiration. I recommended that folks who want to become (tech) innovators can actually generate inspiration by practicing and sharing the arts, communing with nature, and yes, taking hot showers. Below is the case of an artist, who had a grand vision of creating intricate music to follow up where some of history’s most notable musicians left off, and how his inspiration was “unblocked” by an experience with nature. The case is about the founder of Electric Light Orchestra, Mr. Jeff Lynne. It is a reminder to aspiring innovators that sometimes it is critical to remove your thoughts from your work, in order to do make the grand leaps resulting in your best work.

Quoting From Wikipedia:

In a BBC Radio interview, Lynne talked about writing “Mr. Blue Sky” after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet and attempting to write ELO’s follow-up to A New World Record:
“ It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks.” ”

inspiration

inspiration (Photo credit: peevee@ds)

Branding: Dell Commercial Promotes IQ Development (Inspiration Quotient)

On December 3rd of last year, I published a post proposing that we all have an Inspiration Quotient (IQ to the nth power).  Innovation maps do not normally mention inspiration because of its perceived ethereal nature – how do you “get inspiration” when you need it?  The POV posited that we all possess the ability to develop our inspiration quotient by practicing the Arts and sharing our works. Why is this important? Breakthrough Innovation is not possible without Inspiration.

Dell‘s very recent Young & Rubicam Group commercial seen in the video below, very artfully encapsulates one passage from that post, excerpted below the video. Dell has long associated its brand with the term inspiration, and I find the “Meet Thomas: Creator of an Alternate Universe” commercial very appropriate for that purpose, engaging, and timely in a seasonal sense with Easter nearing. The imagery used is beyond what is normally seen in a commercial, and my guess is that the creators were equally inspired by JK Rowling’s personal experience, as I mentioned in my post, as well as her Harry Potter books.  The fact that they spotlight a non-descript District Manager named Thomas, who could be anyone, furthers the proposal I make in my post that we all have inspiration within us, and practicing the Arts will help us access it.

EXCERPT from 12/3/2013 EdRodPOV Post :

Ringo’s latest tweet on August 29, 2012 stated,

“I never studied anything, really.  I didn’t study the drums. I joined bands and made all the mistakes onstage.” – @RingoStarrMusic

… Take it from Ringo, you don’t need to be good at art, you just need to try, enjoy the trying and put it out there. Think of producing your art in terms of introducing the minimal viable product as described by Eric Ries and Steve Blank.  Make it a priority to keep sending it out there, along with healthy eating, exercise, etc.

Some people will never break through the inspiration wall. Life has not dealt them either the capacity to sit still and think about nothing (as in meditation), or the freedom from life’s extreme stresses for a walk, even for a few minutes a day, as required to exercise the inspiration muscle.  These are the people that should think most about practicing some form(s) of art and forcefully adapting it into their week because they should not completely ignore their humanity. (Any wonder why they call art ‘The Humanities’?) For instance, if you sit on the bus or subway everyday, bring a sketchpad or tablet and start drawing – it’s that easy.  Relax, you don’t have to be good, you don’t have to be efficient, effective, or produce results.  It’s in the doing that you allow the inspiration to take over.  This is arguably more important to your jobs than those dozens of daily news emails that will be forgotten tomorrow.  It will refresh your morning work re-entry by reducing stress and open the window to inspiration. If you can give away the sketches, make a friend and do so right there, when you reach the station every day. Frame them, sell them, or post them to a blog.  You need the reward of sharing to motivate you to make a habit out of something that can be thought of by many as a time waster.

Soundcloud posts testimonials from its artists on its Soundcloud tour page. There you’ll see comments like “responses to my work have been so encouraging I honestly believe it has directly impacted my productivity.” Sharing produces a self-reinforcing link. You take showers, right?  Sing in the shower every day, and sing it loud. Critics will come, and others will appreciate at least the effort, and that’s life. One day when you get off that train and get to your desk, you’ll capture a eureka moment that your colleagues will regard as genius. You can’t have genius without inspiration. Someone like JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was able to use her stress as a motivator.  She used art as an escape from the stress of being a single Mom and allowed it to drive her into a deep part of her mind, harvesting a brilliant talent. She practiced her art on the train every day for years, and allowed the inspiration to flow.  She’s worth a billion dollars now.  How big is your company? What’s your net worth?

End of EXCERPT

I encourage anyone who is thinking about innovation, to read the entire POV post to understand the links between practicing and sharing the Arts, developing Inspiration, and achieving Breakthrough Innovation.

English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone... Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)]

How many times does a hot new product or service come out and you say, “I could have thought of that” or “Why didn’t I think of that?”  Our high value US economy is increasingly dependent on innovation.  When people mention China’s economic rise, we depend on “innovation” as our figurative ‘USA, USA’ chant.  We are high-value, and everyone else is low-value, right?  (Not really, folks) There’s good money where innovation meets market need.  Everyone wants to capitalize on innovation, but in reality, inspiration leads to breakthrough innovation. Ere go, inspiration is the goal.

The Importance of Your Inspiration Quotient

This is a subtle but importance difference that business tomes rarely discuss because people think inspiration just happens to some people, and cannot be produced. I disagree. We all have an inspiration quotient, and in this blog post, I contend that practicing the Arts is the way to capturing inspiration in the art, in life, and in whatever endeavors you undertake.  If you want to hire, invest in or become an inspired innovator, hire, invest in or become a musician, painter, writer, sculptor or dancer.  If you want a company full of innovators, promote art as a central human development priority in your organization. Formalizing the practice of art in order to engender inspired innovation is not covered in your MBA text, and is overlooked in the general business media.  I’ve seen various innovation maps, innovation cycles, and innovation process charts, and none of them mentioned inspiration or the Arts. So, I’m putting it out there for business gurus to analyze, formalize, institutionalize and potentially monetize.  The pathway to inspired innovation is practicing the arts.

You might be thinking, great, another thing to add to my to do list of in order to be a top performer.  As you’ll read later, it’s only as time consuming as you want it to be, but here’s your scientific justification.  I’m a true believer in the line of thinking that one can change one’s success in many areas by disciplining yourself to adopt new habits that are out of your norm in other areas.  Said another way, if you drag your sorry ass out of bed and get yourself to work out early every morning, it will carry through to help you push through that next development cycle or to make the key point that lands a difficult sale. These habits can create actual physiological changes in your brain as well, if you want to get scientific.  Train your mind. So what?  We’ve heard that all before.  I’m busy, where’s the business rationale for art?

Well, the greatest disruptive innovations come from an ethereal asset that comes to us unexpectedly, and by seeming divine providence, known as “inspiration”.  Michelangelo had it. Benjamin Franklin had it.  Alexander G Bell and Marconi had it. Steve Jobs had it. You can’t learn it in business school.  You can’t order it on Amazon. You can’t force your engineers to engender it just because they listen to music or know a programming language.  I contend that great inventors like da Vinci and Steve Jobs achieved their greatness from inspiration, and that inspiration was due in great measure to their passion for practicing various forms of art. Historians might track back recognition of the importance of studying and practicing art to ancient Greece or Mesopotamia.  Inventors of the stature of a Ben Franklin, who began his professional life as a writer and lived his entire life as a satirist, were enormously multi-dimensional. Unfortunately, you can see a declining importance assigned to the Arts today in the tight budgets of US schools. We mistakenly view the study of art as a pathway to an artistic profession, rather than as a pathway to innovation in many professions.  Unlike Mr. Franklin or Michelangelo, we risk becoming a cradle to grave nation of intensely focused specialists on an org chart with an inhibited aptitude for the inter-dimensional imagining that is required for inspired innovation.  It is not critical thinking, it is imagining. Kids are born with a deep desire to make these neural connections, and we formulate that desire away. Think about this when you are discussing Arts budgets on your local PTA.

Inspiration – it’s already inside us all, but we don’t know it yet.  You can’t buy it, put your hands on it, or make use of it when you need to. We Americans hate that, and that’s why you won’t see it on any arrows or circles on mind-bending innovation process maps.  Imagine if an innovation consultant came in to tell your team “Ok, the first step is you want to get your hands on some inspiration.”  Like Peter Senge’s famous work on The Learning Organization, you’d recoil at the idea that everything from there on down would be built on the backs of turtles”.  Managers like to think they can process map everything. So if it’s not on our neat 3D process map, it must be superfluous.  The problem is, inspiration is the most essential element to great innovation.

How You Get Inspiration

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The answer to all world problems that will manifest themselves in grave ways in coming generations can be summed up in one word: Innovation. – Ed Rodriguez

Innovation