Innovator’s DNA

Uploaded on


More in: Technology , Education
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
No Downloads


Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds



Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

    No notes for slide


  • 1. The Innovator’s DNA by Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen HBR December 2009 Five “discovery skills” separate true innovators fro the rest of us
  • 2. Sample of Innovative Entrepreneurs from six-year study surveying 3,000 creative executives and conducting an additional 500 individual interviews they found five ‘discovery skills’ that distinguish them Jeff Bezos ( Mike Collins (Big Idea Group) Mike Lazaridis (Research in Motion) Spencer Moffat (Fast Arch of Utah) David Neeleman (JetBlue: Morris Air) Corey Wride (Movie Mouth) Mark Wattles (Hollywood Video) Niklas Zennstrom (Skype) Marc Benioff ( Michael Dell (Dell Computer) Aaron Garrity (XanGo) Pierre Omidyar (eBay) Scott Cook (Intuit) Sam Allen ( Eliot Jacobsen (RocketFuel) John Pestana (Omniture) Diane Green (VMWare) Josh James (Omniture) Chris Johnson (Terra Nova) Jeff Jones (NxLight; Campus Pipeline) Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines) Peter Thiel (PayPal)
  • 3. Five “discovery skills”
    • Associating
    • Questioning
    • Observing
    • Experimenting
    • Networking
    A robust sense of curiosity about yourself, your work, your world and those around you
  • 4. Discovery Skill 1: Associating ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields
    • Entrepreneur Frans Johannson described this as the “Medici effect”
      • Medici family (Florence, Italy) brought together people from wide range of disciplines; as people connected new ideas bloomed
    • Brain works through experiences: some logical, some less so (anxiety, emotional)
    • “ Creativity is connecting things” – Steve Jobs
    • Grow mental muscle by using other discovery skills; able to generate new ideas based on this ability
    • Pierre Omidyar (eBay Launch)
    • Three unconnected dots:
    • Fascination with creating more-efficient markets
    • Fiancée's desire to locate hard-to-find collectible Pez dispensers
    • Ineffectiveness of local ads to locate these items
  • 5. Discovery Skill 2: Questioning ability to ask "what if", "why", and "why not" questions that challenge the status quo and open up the bigger picture
    • Ask “Why?” & “Why Not?” & “What if?”
      • Need to challenge assumptions versus focus on how to make existing better
    • Imagine opposites
      • Capacity to hold two diametrically opposed ideas in their heads…then producing a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea (Roger Martin)
      • Play devils advocate “…to imagine a completely different alternative can lead to original insights” (Pierre Omidyar)
    • Embrace constraints
      • Only imposed when necessary
      • Great questions can help us actively impose constraints
    • “ The important job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right questions”
    • – Peter Drucker
    • One of Google’s Nine Innovation Principles is “creativity loves constraint”
  • 6. Discovery Skill 3: Observing attention to details, most notably in other people’s behavior
    • Act like anthropologists and social scientists
    • Consistently and constantly look for small behavioral details to gain insights
    • Scott Cook
    • Two key observations:
    • Wife’s frustration on keeping track of their finances
    • Sneak peek at Apple Lisa
  • 7. Discovery Skill 4: Experimenting always try new things by constantly exploring new worlds
    • Try out new ideas by crating prototypes and launching pilots
        • …” found 10,000 ways that do not work.” --Edison
    • Active experimentation
        • Intellectual exploration
        • Physical tinkering
        • Engaging in new surroundings
    • “ Encourage employees to go down blind alleys and experiment…”
    • --Jeff Bezos
  • 8.
    • Building a network of diverse individuals can create a radically different perspective for you
    • Blackberry came from 1987 conference where speaker was describing a Coke vending machine would send a signal when they needed refilling…
    • Key ideas for JetBlue (satellite TV at seat and at-home reservationists) through networking at conferences and elsewhere…
    Discovery Skill 5: Networking ability to talk and learn from people they have nothing in common with
  • 9. Practice, Practice, Practice Five “discovery skills”
    • Associating
        • Visit your local bookstore and peruse 1-2 different sections that you normally go into…what associations can you make between that section and your field
    • Questioning
        • Spend 10-15 minutes every day writing down questions that challenge status quo in your life (asking Why? Why not?)
    • Observing
        • Note taking everywhere you go
    • Experimenting
        • Attend seminars or education outside your area of expertise
    • Networking
        • Hold regular idea lunches where you meet with a few new people from diverse functions, companies, industries or countries