I am going to be discussing a very old question today, one that can be quite very controversial. Evolution vs…….. can anyone guess?Innovation.I hope to convey to you anidea of how we innovate as humans and whetherwe truly invent new ideas or do all things evolve into being.
First some definitions.
For example, would moving from a metal aglet for our shoe strings to a plastic colored one with a smiley face be an incremental or a disruptive innovation?
What about moving from the aglet to Velcro shoelace, incremental or disruptive innovation?You are correct, but who is it, or more importantly, is there a type of person that comes up with all these new ideas?
[READ ABOVE] Leonardo di Vinci who envisioned more designs than anyone previously; we are still creating products from his ideas.Columbus, who visualized a new path around the world.Steve Jobs, who say in everything he created a beautiful design.At first considered nuts, by the end of their lives the guys were considered revolutionaries.
Does anyone know what this is? Yes, it is the communicator created by the great Visionary, Gene Roddenberry for his StarTrek series. But he was not the actual inventor of the device. He created the idea of the communicator,but he didn’t go into the “communicator” business. It was Motorola who ultimately attained the vision of Roddenberry by inventing the StarTac. Notice the number of years from the vision in 1966 to the actual device in 1996 – 30 years. Do we believe that Motorola actually “invented” the communicator, or was there some evolutionary process the telecom industry went through to get there?
What about the wireless earpiece Lt. Uhura wore in StarTrek, also a Roddenberry creation. How long did it take to invent a product that would emulate very much this Vision? Ericsson sold the first Bluetooth earpiece in 2004.
So who is the Innovator? READExamples include:Thomas Edison who moved us from candles and lanterns to light bulbs;The Wright Brothers who used what they knew about bicycles to fly the first airplane;And Tim Berners-Lee. Who knows he created? WWWDid these fine people actually invent the wares they are famous for?
[READ] I believe that everything is evolving and building upon everything, so that there is really no new inventions. I believe that we are just finding creative ways to reuse stuff that was created before us to serve another purpose.
So who knows what this is? Would you ever think that it was the Cro-Magnon man that created the first suitcase?
Well before the 1800s, we had Kings and Queens with traveling trunks, but it wasn’t until inexpensive transportation for everyone came into being that the suitcase we know today was developed. Notice the cart carrying the suitcases!
Yes, the Rollaboard.In 1988 a Northwest Airlines pilot named Robert Plath created the first suitcase with its own wheels. It took a couple of hundred thousand years after both the wheel was invented and the suitcase was invented for them to evolve together to create the Rollerboard Suitcase. Was this incremental or disruptive? I would say disruptivePlath quit the piloting business and started up Travelpro. As an Entrepreneur, that we will define later, Plath had first-year sales of about $1.5 million and nearly $45 million in annual sales today, but he totally changed the sluggish luggage industry to where no one produces wheelless suitcases any more.
And in the latest version, the wheels are no longer wheels, they are tracks so we can easily go up and down stairs without carrying the rollerboard like anoldtimeysuitcase. Cool, huh?
Even cooler, we have a wheeled vehicle INSIDE of a wheeled suitcase.
So, how far advanced would we be today with the suitcase if the Flintstones had just figured out the rollerboard for us?
This brings us into the subject of entrepreneurialism. The entrepreneur is the guy who sees the business opportunity in an idea– usually they are NOT the inventor, but they believe they can take the innovation and create a business opportunity with it. And as Paul states here, they have to be able to persist beyond the Nay Sayers.
Read the quotes… Throughout my career, it has been collaboration through which I have always created the best ideas. Anyone who has had a child knows their urge to create – to make something from nothing – and it is innate in us all. You can’t stop kids from doing it; they’re perpetually inventing. Sometimes we manage to multiply that energy, but often today’s society manages to stifle it. The trick isn’t about showing people how to be creative as though they never have been, but rather looking for ways to reconnect with their natural curiosity that we are all born.The best way I found that to happen is by surrounding myself with people who bring different perspectives and skills together to help me solve a problem and even making the process a bit challenging.
As a unique illustration of challenge in collaboration. My wife and I have a big collaboration project going on with my nearly 3 year old son right now – we are working on his potty training. He is basically an only child right now because my 18 year is newly married and living out of the home. The interesting thing is, when he is with us, he will not tell us when he needs to go. But when others his age are around and they say they need to go potty, he accepts the challenge and races them to the bathroom. So, we’re building a collaboration team of his peers to get him trained faster.
As we illustrated earlier, it took 400,000 years before man figured out the need for a suitcase to have its own wheels, and cutting out the outliers like Google and Facebook where in less than 10 years both companies have a combined valuation of well over $200 billion dollars, ideas must incubate and visions must evolve into innovations and products, and then the entrepreneur must take the business-ball and run with it playing ignorant to those quote, unquote “WHO KNOW BETTER”
For example, I combined existing technology and created a system for public safety that could very well change the whole 911 system.According to the National Emergency Number Association there are over 240 million calls made to 911 every year.
But not one of our 6,183 call centers around the US can receive and view a video of the situation from that 911 caller.
For example, in the 2007 Charleston Sofa Warehouse Fire where 9 firefighters lost their lives, there was an employee trapped inside the building early in the fire. He called 911 and was rescued, but what if he had been able to shoot video from inside the building directly out to the firefighters before they entered the building?
Just think of how better prepared the firefighters would have been with this kind of real-time visual information?
This was the idea that lead to the creation of Guardian Watch™, a patent pending web and mobile application that allows smart phone users to live-stream video of an emergency, to secure webservers giving first responders a WINDOW into what is happening on the scene before they arrive. We are enhancing our applications and planning the full launch of our products in May next month. So, I thought I would close with some personal Maxims that I have developed over the years.
Meaning, don’t over do it, focus on where you want to go and don’t get distracted.
So we must have a well stocked tool chest.
This is actually the old way of thinking.
Today, we know the best way of advancing is by celebrating failure and if you analyze the reasons for failure and openly discuss them with colleagues, customers and investors, then you’ll gain knowledge and perspectives you can leverage in your next venture.
And finally… If at first you DO succeed, hide all astonishment. Thank, you. I appreciate the opportunity to be here.