Breakthrough innovation typically starts at the edges of the bell curve in the challenge of a crisis or the prospect of an outstanding opportunity. This is because the risk of deviating from the standard way of doing things and the reward of taking a chance on something new is reversed in these extremely negative and positive situations. For example, the Apple we know today was born out of its near collapse in the late 1990’s and the Telsa we currently marvel at can do no wrong because the public adores its haute couture product.

Leading innovation is different than all other forms of governance in that it pulls the exceptions at the edges of the bell curve to the stable center in an attempt to bring useful novelty into the norm. In this way, innovation often incites commercial revolutions: ubiquitous connectivity replaces shopping malls and universities, smart gadgets replace billfolds and magazines, miracle drugs replace invasive surgeries and going to the gym, and the like. (more…)

In the depths of winter, my thoughts often turn to warm visions of summer: barbeques, the beach, and graduations. As we run up to the New Year, I share a little commencement advice to those who hope to graduate or at least advance a grade in the curriculum of life: (more…)

[In last week’s part-one installment of this three-part article, I highlighted all the things that make innovation so radically different from all other forms of value creation. The strategies we normally bring to organizational growth aren’t enough when it comes to innovation. We need a new strategy to help us go into uncharted territory.]

How do you make plans in a world where plans were meant to be changed? Innovators are adaptors. They’re flexible leaders who run multiple experiments at once and make adjustments along the way. Rather than create something completely new, they build onto things that already exist. (more…)