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A quick bit on my background…I’m a 2001 graduate of Ohio University with degrees in MIS and Marketing. I became an IT Auditor right out of college. Worked in that field for almost nine years. During that time I moonlighted as a consultant to various small business on marketing on the web. In 2009, I left my career as an auditor and have been consulting as a digital strategist ever since. I’ve moved around a lot, worked at different companies and in different industries. I’ve worked for big companies, had small business clients and started my own business. But all the while I’ve kept one goal in mind…
And that is to be someone who makes new things and thinks about them. It’s been my interest and where I’ve researched for years now.
So, enough about me, I was asked to be here today to speak about innovation and how you can get to the top.I consider myself the opening act here – the bio’s of the speakers after me are far more interesting and impressive. What I hope to share with you is my method – with examples – of how I think innovation “happens”.
The quick agenda…(warning: I have no idea how long this talk will take)There will probably be talk of Aziz Ansari, Bubba Watson and beer.
As I said, I’m the opening act and I haven’t timed this talk. And, it’s full of random thoughts somewhat pieced together.There’s a lot of examples and quotes here that I hope demonstrate my points. Truthfully, innovation is a hard topic to discuss. If this talk is a bit scattered, it’s because I struggled to come up with a topic. I don’t consider myself an innovator, but as I started spitballing topics I started thinking about my areas of research, what I’ve done to get where I’m at and techniques I think work for adding innovation to a career.
I consider creativity and innovation to be closely linked. So, from time-to-time, I may blur the lines of the two definitions. My apologies if this is confusing.Generically, innovation is connecting the dots.Steve Jobs has a great line on creativity that really hammers home my thoughts on innovation: When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
The other thing I want to emphasize is that people innovate. It’s not the proces or the tech that innovates. It’s you, it’s me, it’s someone. We innovate process and technology.
So now, my formula.You have to care about what you’re doing, think hard about it, craft the process/tech, tinker with it, then hustle to implement and share it.
First, care…There is a great essay by Merlin Mann where he emphasizes this point. I’ll sum it up as best I can: think about a time when you really cared about something you worked on. If you think back to those times, you’ll remember yourself caring about detail and asking questions different than any other time you were working.http://www.43folders.com/2010/02/05/first-careThink about those times when you really disappeared into challenging work. You had to tear yourself away, right?Because, during those happy times you were fortunate enough to find yourself engaged with something that you cared intensely about, you probably started asking a really different sort of question.
I love this quote by Einstein. “Creativity and innovation come not from the ideas of our mind alone, but also from some conviction in our heart… an orientation of spirit.” — At TED 2012, Bryan Stevenson echoes Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Anne Lamott on intuition and rationality.
I recognize that it’s not easy to care about everything, so what can you do to increase your caring?Find inspirationGet on tumblr or pinterest. Find subjects you’re interested in and figure out why you’re always buying pants from a certain company or why you keep looking at the same pictures over and over. Apply them to your field. SOCKS + SNOWBOARDSTEDx, Snowboarding, NPR, Golf, socks
Be deliberate, do things with style, strategyPractice wrong thinking. “Great inventors engage in divergent or "wrong" thinking, which allows them to explore the full realm of possibilities for a solution - no matter how silly or far-fetched. They're not necessarily concerned with the most logical solution, and certainly not with one that draws on "conventional wisdom.“” http://the99percent.com/articles/7158/What-It-Takes-To-Innovate-Wrong-Thinking-Tinkering-Intuiting?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+The99Percent+%28The+99+Percent%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
Startups don’t compete with airlines by purchasing a bunch of planes, hiring a bunch of pilots and locking up a bunch of terminals at airports. Startup compete with airlines by inventing videoconferencing.
Spend time studying the industry, process, or whatever it is you’re working to innovate. If you don’t read, watch and listen to as much as you can, you’ll miss something important.
You can’t think if you don’t take the time to do so. So pause and think.“bliss station” http://books.google.com/books?id=jQQdk6YszYIC&pg=PA115&dq=%22bliss+station%22+campbell&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KuFkT7ewL6vMsQKKtcS3Dw&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22bliss%20station%22%20campbell&f=false“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”Notebooks/PensThink in the car/airportsObama spends 45 minutes thinking alone each day. If he can find time, you can too.
Innovation is not adding another blade"Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back scratcher, and ten blades? Your handsome-ass grandfather had one blade... and polio."What part of this don't you understand? If two blades is good, and three blades is better, obviously five blades would make us the best fucking razor that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the razor game by clinging to the two-blade industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five blades is the biggest chance of all. http://www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades,11056/
This is where you define things. You begin to source materials, develop your message, map out the process and find the tools to execute. And, most of all you start to build. Personal brand, materials, execution, build, quality, tools, utility, message
Build things. Ideas are wonderful, but being able to prototype something and see it in front of you is better. Use whatever tools you have. You need to make it real before you can discover what it is supposed to be.http://www.openforum.com/articles/flipboards-evan-doll-on-creating-a-standout-smartphone-app?extlink=sm-openf-socialteam-tumblr – flipboard founder
Don’t be scared. Failure can be good. You have to try it. Do as best you can to treat the environment you’re in as a sandbox and playground. Treat failures as experiments. Don’t fret them, learn from them. “I’m glad that this is an environment where you feel free to fail”Don Draper quotes: http://flavorwire.com/267713/40-of-don-drapers-best-lines?all=1
Bubba Watson plays golf his own way. He hits it as hard as he can and rarely in a straight line, but he’s spent years crafting his game to be a professional. My point here is do it your way, learn what works and what doesn’t. FIGURE OUT HOW YOU WANT TO IT TO WORK.
Get your hands dirty, play, try, fail
Creativity comes from lots of disconnected little half-ideas that need to bounce off other seemingly disconnected ideas…(They) need each other if they’re going to give birth to the next generation of great ideas. Steve Johnson TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from.html Practice changingConstantly buildPlaysimplify
Aziz Ansari and Chris Rock uses to develop new routines to illustrate the little bets approach. “When beginning to work on a new show, Rock picks venues where he can experiment with new material in very rough fashion. In gearing up for his latest global tour, he made between forty and fifty appearances at a small comedy club, called Stress Factory, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, not far from where he lives. In front of audiences of, say, fifty people, he will show up unannounced, carrying a yellow legal note pad with ideas scribbled on it…In sets that run forty-five minutes, most of the jokes will fall flat…For a full routine, Rock tries hundreds (if not thousands) of preliminary ideas, out of which only a handful will make the final cut…By the time Rock reaches a big show – say an HBO special or an appearance on David Letterman—his jokes, opening, transitions, and closing have all been tested and retested rigorously.” Chris Rock uses an iterative trial-and-error process to gradually build up a blockbuster comedy routine. Rock does a show at a small comedy club to test his ideas. Armed with the insight he gains from the first show, he refines the jokes that worked and discards the ones that fell flat. He repeats the process of refining and testing until he has perfected his act. http://www.4rmg.com/what-do-chris-rock-and-adrian-peterson-have-in-common http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704570704576274962717655144.htmlSlowhunch.com is a new, open source web app and "innovation community" inspired by Steven Johnson's new book entitled, Where Good Ideas Come From . If you haven't already watched his masterful presentation at TED
If we didn’t have people tinkering and trying new things, I’d have never found a beer with donuts and bacon in it.
Ideas are free, execution is what costs.http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinsights/2012/03/28/moving-from-idea-to-action-how-to-keep-an-innovation-from-getting-stuck/?feed=rss_home
You have to do what you can to make your widget work. If you’ve developed a product, you may have to eat ramen noodles at every meal to keep the servers running.
Foursquare has been rather successful in adoption of users. It’s raised a bunch of money, found revenue streams and hired many employees. It’s a success story, but if you look at everything before that March 2009 launch, you’ll see how much work and effort founder Dennis Crowley has put into it. In reality it goes back to 1999 when he was in college. Through hustle and work he’s gotten it to the masses. Tristan Walker, VP of Sales: http://justtristan.com/post/7696394458/two-years-ago-todayhttp://www.quora.com/Dennis-Crowley-What-are-your-top-5-pieces-of-advice-for-entrepreneurs/answer/Dennis-Crowley-1
There’s my formula.You have to care about what you’re doing, think hard about it, craft the process/tech, tinker with it, then hustle to implement and share it.
Thanks for having me. I keep a full log of all the articles, pictures and whatnot that I referenced here on my website. You can email me with questions or whatever. Hopefully you learned something today. I’m around the rest of the day. If you’re interested in the slides, as well as quotes and articles I referenced today, here’s a link.
AKPsi Ohio University Speaker Series: Innovate Your Way to the Top
Startups don’t compete withairlines by purchasing a bunch ofplanes, hiring a bunch of pilotsand locking up a bunch ofterminals at airports. Startupscompete with airlines by inventingvideoconferencing.
Build things. Ideas are wonderful,but being able to prototypesomething and see it in front ofyou is better. Use whatever toolsyou have. You need to make it realbefore you can discover what it issupposed to be.
“I’m glad that this is an environment where you feel free to fail”
Creativity comes from lots ofdisconnected little half-ideas thatneed to bounce off otherseemingly disconnectedideas…(They) need each other ifthey’re going to give birth to thenext generation of great ideas.