On Career Development: The Ability to Innovate

09.29.13

 

Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.

~ Mason Cooley

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

~ Steve Jobs

Innovation without profit is nothing.

~ Jeffrey Immelt

Business only has two functions – Marketing and Innovation.

~ Milan Kundera

~ Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have.  When Apple came up with Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D.  It’s not about money.  It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.

~ Steve Jobs

The fifth FACE IT* leadership attribute to accelerate your career is the ability to innovate.  The definition I like to use for innovation is the ability to convert new ideas into revenue and profits. This is just another way to say what Mr. Immelt said above about innovation without profit is nothing. The point here is that there are many great ideas.  In fact, ideas are not necessarily the hard part.  Coming up with an idea that actually will drive revenue and profits is the hard part.  That is true innovation; at least when it comes to creating great businesses.

How do you develop the ability to innovate?  A good book to read on this is The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregerson, and Clayton M. Christensen.  The authors research shows that great innovators develop the following five attributes: associating (linking ideas that aren’t obviously related), questioning, observing, networking and experimenting.  Mr. Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, is also another good book on the subject.  I also found The Lean Startup by Eric Ries to be a good practical guide on implementing innovation in your company.

I was first exposed to world-class innovation while working for OGIO (www.ogio.com).  In my view the founder of OGIO, Mike Pratt, has the same DNA as Steve Jobs, one of the most influential innovators in modern times.  I’m a huge fan of OGIO bags.  The team at OGIO, led by Mr. Pratt, has infused innovative design in all of their bags and apparel.  I saw all of the five innovator attributes in Mr. Pratt. It was inspiring to see them in action to develop a great company like OGIO.

Check out the world of OGIO here.

Simply put, innovation drives revenue and profits.  You can innovate ways to reduce expenses (a good book on this way to innovate is Indispensable by Monday, by Larry Myler) and to increase revenue with new product and marketing strategies.  Everyone in the organization can be an innovator. Become known as an innovator in whatever role you are in.  That ability and reputation will bring you to the top.

~ SLE

*FACE IT leadership attributes are Focused, Accountable, Customer-Centric, Executes, Innovates, and Teacher

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