The Art of Innovation, or Don’t Be Plain Stupid

You have something truly unique, only you do it, but it is of no value. In that corner, you are just plain stupid.
- Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Innovation

The Art of Innovation, Guy Kawasaki, TEDxBerkeley 2014

If the Juicero story taught us something, it’s that Bibo Barmaid probably needs to take the history lessons a bit more seriously. While we are encouraged left and right to question everything in favor of innovation – it is often misleading. Not all seemingly great, unorthodox ideas are worth acting upon; they are often just that – great ideas with no larger meaning and no inherent sustainability. I’ll go even further – not all innovation is disruptive, and not all innovation is innovation at all.

What is innovation then? And how does one turn this term into action?

The ever-relevant speech by Guy Kawasaki called The Art of Innovation, presented at Berkeley in 2014, outlines how some of the most successful brands were able to make history (and continue to do so) based on the same core principles:

  1. Create meaning: It’s the first step in creating innovation. Apple – democratized computer, Google – democratized information, eBay – democratized commerce.
  2. Create mantra: Two to three words explaining why you and your meaning should exist. Don't make a mission statement, make a mantra.
  3. Jump curves: Don’t try to do things 10% better; do things on a different level. An example: A jump from Ice 1.0 (ice harvesting business, limited by location, climate, and how many horses you have to carry the ice cut from the lake) to Ice 2.0 (ice factory – freeze water centrally, get ice delivery on trucks set up, no more limitations by climate) to Ice 3.0 (refrigerator – a PC, personal chiller, as Kawasaki calls it). Most companies don’t jump curves because they define themselves in terms of what they do, not what value they provide. It limits companies in their ability to jump the curve and create innovation.
  4. Roll the dice: Great products have depth (expanded functionality) – they are intelligent (Ford’s MyKey), complete, empowering (they make you more creative, powerful, and productive), and elegant.
  5. Don’t worry, be crappy: If you waited for the perfect world, you would never ship.
  6. Let a 100 flowers blossom: People will use your product in the ways you did not anticipate, and it’s gonna be people who you did not anticipate are going to use it all. <...> Positioning and branding ultimately come down to what the consumer decides, not what you decide.
  7. Polarize people: Great products polarize people, and you shouldn’t be afraid of that.
  8. Churn, baby, churn: Churn your product, change it, and change it, and change it endlessly.
  9. Niche thyself: A simple 2X2 matrix brilliantly explains in examples where you want to be. Spoiler alert: the upper right corner.
  10. Perfect your pitch: Customize your introduction to the audience, give 10 slides in 20 minutes, 30 point font.

And finally,

11. Don’t let the bozos grind you down.

Even if you have seen it already, you will not regret spending 20+ minutes on this exceptional, example-rich presentation, beautifully breaking down the art of innovation with so rarely met particularity. I definitely didn’t.

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