While this might not be our own headline, we'll agree that Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen, via their article in FastCoDesign, ask a very interesting, timely question. The word "innovation" has been thrown around so much over the past few years that many will agree that it's lost its heft, its impact. If you tell me you're "very innovative," then chances are I'll quickly assume the opposite (or at least something more tempered). Please don't tell me, show me. As the article cites, one interesting example is Philips, which created the first electric razors, the compact cassette, the CD, and so on - but good luck naming something so impactful that they've created of late, even though they're at all of the innovation and design conferences we can name.
Granted, all of this focus on innovation comes from, at least I'd say, a great place - companies and communities large and small realizing it's time to think a bit differently. Make something that's indeed better, and not just some incremental change from whatever we've idly gotten used to. But it's honestly easier said than done to be "innovative" or "disruptive" (let alone a "unique," "award-winning" "leader" who "thinks outside the box").
So, how does a company today - or ever - actually innovate? Well, that's too big a question for a brief Monday morning blog post, though we would love to hear your theories here. For one, bringing in some innovation consultants to "solve" this problem for a few weeks is probably not it. One idea posited in the article focuses on the people, not the new innovation processes in place: "People with strong, creative talents are essential to the development of innovations, and the difference between success and disaster is largely defined by the selection of a good team--not by its processes."
As someone lucky enough to work in a firm full of a carefully chosen, talented (I'll add fabulous) people, of course I would agree. It's not only a way to deliver A+ solutions, but to have one of the most fulfilling, supported professional experiences one can ask for. But I would also add that once you find these people, be sure to give them the freedom to put these talents to use. A year ago, I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by Beth Comstock, GE's Senior Vice President and CMO, who sets aside an "experimental project" budget every year, whose work does not need to be factored in to the company's earnings goals. This gives that experimental work room to actually be risky - to not have to be "innovative" and "creative" while at the same time somehow produce huge earnings immediately, or ever. It just made sense to me.
What would you add to the pot? Theories, or personal experiences, that speak to making changes to and continually evolving one's own company, or one's own life? We look forward to hearing.
“Designing is pleasure for me” – Eva Zeisel
Eva Zeisel, a ceramic artist and designer, whose graceful designs for dinnerware in the 1940s and ’50s helped to revolutionize the way Americans perceive their kitchenware, died on Friday in New City, N.Y. Eva Zeisel was the first-ever to have a one-woman show at MOMA in 1946. She left us at the elegant age of 105.
So, cheers to a great opportunity for a reflection, to a new year, and, once again, we wish you all unity, humility, peace, and joy throughout.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.