In a business, any innovation must pass the Who Cares test.
Business cares about innovation approximately because it needs to. Without
a need, an innovation is a change carrying some degree of latent interest.
Business is not a requirement of innovation.
But when a business needs an innovation, the key prerequisite is the ability
of the business to host the innovation. This usually means that some
innovations are more likely to succeed in the business than are others.
• In the mid 1960s, Dick Fosbury jumped backwards over the high bar and permanently
changed how Olympic Gold Medals could be earned.
• In 1967, AT&T and the US Government together created the 9-1-1 telephone number.
• In the 1970’s home equity loans were introduced in the housing industry.
• In the 1980’s, turntabling was invented, an instrumental technique of Hip Hop that
completely reset expectations about future music and spawned an entire constellation of
new genres dominating much of musical culture for persons in the developed world born
during the next 25 years.
• High-powered computation, applied as sequence analysis in biology, created
comprehensive mapping of the human genome in April 2003, globally resetting the basis
for development of new medicines.
• In 2012, the Taco Bell food chain designed and launched the Doritos Locos Taco and sold
100 million of them in 10 weeks.
The importance of being original is highly relative.
• For a creator, originality is a motivation
• For a supplier, originality is a feature
• For an owner, originality is an asset
Originality can occur, simultaneously and unacknowledged, at multiple unrelated
starting points, and wind up converging at the same point in the same innovation.
Frequently, the key to being innovative is the creativity exercised in being
Innovation does not depend on originality. Innovation is a predisposition of a way
to get something done.
Many of the best moments of creation come from chance, from accidents, from
mistakes, and from breaking rules – mainly because those occasions introduce
something unusual into the existing point of view.
Resolving or accommodating the difference can generate unusual arrangements
that turn out to be useful.
So often, the surprise of many new ideas is, nothing more than an awareness and
acknowledgement that the difference is useful enough to reproduce on purpose.
Creativity simply assumes the permission to make that acknowledgement and do
something about it.
Creatives being business-like
• Who will care about this idea
• What would be a compelling
• What development approach is
• Who else is working on this?
Business being creative
• If we could be better off, what
would be different?
• What could cause or allow the
• Where would the cause or
allowance come from?
• When could we have it?
Most business “problems” stem from issues regarding (and
sometimes combining) change, distinction and cost. Thus,
tactics, processes and resources are high-impact areas.
An innovator can appear in any of these areas, and
an innovation’s progress through other areas can be
stalled or stopped in any of them as well. Through
management, each area is a potential host.
To avoid typical inhibitors to innovation,
businesses will often have to adjust current
practices and models regarding foresight, risk,
communication, monitoring, and support.
Defining a problem is normally an occasion of recognizing a
need. Innovations are not solutions looking for problems.
Innovations are opportunities to solve problems. The primary
ROI of innovation is opportunity. The ROI is variable.
Precedent to exceed (examples)
Innovation as a solution (examples)
Design and Implement
Decide and Institute
Discover and Install
Design and Invent
• Eschew mythology. Innovations described somewhere are not
necessarily prescriptions for somewhere else.
• Big words apply to small things. For example, a tiny initiative is still an
initiative, but what matters is if an initiative is needed instead of
• In business, the really critical success factor is not what’s new, but
instead what’s next. Sometimes, it is important that what’s next is
new. Sometimes, new is not important.
• Unfortunately, business speakers tend to omit the word “business”
from the phrase “successful business innovation”. It’s a habit.