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Valuable Innovation Insights From My Favourite Tech Business Book

Walter Isaacson detailed the history of Silicon Valley in a book called The Innovators. It’s one of my favourite books, and I summarised what I learned from it in a blog in 2017.

Over the past few years, particularly as we emerged from the pandemic, I’ve been asked more about how organisations can approach innovation with insights.

Here’s an extract from my original blog of what enables innovation, with some updated commentary:

Encourage diversity of thought - Ada Lovelace is the daughter of the great English poet Byron, who was a Luddite. Ada was exceptionally clever, tutored by some great minds and wrote the first algorithm. However, her emerging thinking was not embraced, resisted by Byron and opportunities were lost.

Technology reduces costs and enhances capability - the first prototype chip for the Apollo guidance computer cost $1000; by the time it was in regular use it cost $20. What may seem cost-prohibitive now, may be possible soon.

Strive for greater diversity with flexibility - HP pioneered three shifts of workers, enabling many women to work in the tech industry outside core hours. The workers were given plenty of leeway to determine how to complete tasks. It resulted in great outcomes!

Casual connections spark ideas – Silicon Valley developed a more open and unstructured workplace to refine ideas without going through a chain of command. Meritocracy resulted in employees being more entrepreneurial.

Ideas must be combined with business skills – ideas from engineering talent must be combined early with business skills. Ideas should be taken from multiple sources and be put together! Remember what Einstein said - “intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.'

Be rational and decisive – be rational and precise in analysing options. Strive to avoid emotion, personal favouritism or whims! Decisions will then be respected. Ensure the process reduces ambiguity and refines ideas for their assessment.

Simply smart – true geniuses such as Kepler, Newton, and Jobs had an instinct for simplicity. When achieved, it will potentially allow you to reach the largest audience.

Divergence delays potential - Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, who tinkered with various technologies that were not as successful as the WWW, stated: 'We didn’t have the same ripe community and cultural mix around us like Homebrew and Silicon Valley'. Many good ideas were not mixed with other random notions, and they did not realise their potential.

Connect your experts – embrace emerging concepts and technologies. Connected communities can disrupt industries. Encyclopaedia Britannica stopped publishing a print edition in 2010 and now represents less than 2% of the content of Wikipedia, which began in 2001.

Structure creative collaboration – creativity is a collaboration, innovation requires three things; a great idea, engineering talent to execute it and business savviness with deal-making capability!

The best innovators are communities ‘who can link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology and poetry to processes’. Visionaries must be partnered with those who can execute; a vision without execution is a mere hallucination.

Want to uplift your innovation? Choose three to five of the above for an immediate impact!


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