, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ricardo Geromel, Contributor

The new corporate mantra is Innovate or Die. Following these 9 commandments will help you stay alive and grow.

1. Generate Constraints

Generate constraints not by reducing resources but by increasing objectives.

It is said that Roberto Goizueta, Coca Cola former CEO, went nuts when showed a market share chart in 1982 that imposed Coca Cola’s supremacy:

It’s all wrong! We need to compare ourselves against WATER, not Pepsi.”

2. Take risks!

BMW dared to spend $25mi in eight ad films  starring Madonna, Clive Owen, and directed by Guy Ritchie. The campaign was such a success that it got the media equivalent of $100 mi according to Eric Tong (@erictongcuong), founder of communication agency LaChose.

Enjoy without moderation: BMW Ad Film.

 3. Think differently

The third commandment is  the slogan of the most innovative company worldwide according to Fast Company. You already know it by heart, now, start following it!

To introduce the Apple Macintosh personal computer for the first time, Apple released “1984″ a remarkable American television commercial directed by Ridley Scott. You must (re)watch it: 1984 .

Malcolm Muggeridge:

“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.”

4. Don’t let experts manage innovation

It is said that NASA spent $12 billion developing a ballpoint ‘space pen’ to be used in zero gravity by astronauts. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just use a pencil?

This is an urban legend that illustrates the main point. In fact, the space pen was not developed by NASA. Paul C. Fisher, owner of the Fisher Space Pen Company, spent “thousands of hours and millions of dollars” of his own money in R&D.

Feasible is different than useful. An useless innovation is just an invention.

Many engineers decide to become engineer because they like to invent. However, a good innovation needs to attend a market need. The main motivation of the person in charge of innovation must be pleasing the market rather than developing the best product or service ever. Invention is the mother of necessity and innovation is the extension of an invention.

I have discussed the difference between innovating and inventing when presenting Brazil’s Top 10 Innovative companies.

The myth, Steve Jobs, nails it again:

Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have… It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get from it.”

5. Seek diversity

Define very precisely the profile of people that match with your company  and from time to time hire someone that doesn’t fit that profile.

Innovation requires new ideas and the best ideas flourish in a diverse environment.

How? Forbes study Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce, based on an exclusive survey of 321 executives at large global enterprises ($500 million-plus in annual revenues), can be downloaded here.

 6. Multiply attempts and never commit the same mistake twice

Don’t punish failure, punish the lack of attempts to innovate.

Woody Allen:

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”

Build prototypes, try your ideas. Innovation takes trial and error, the willingness to accept mistakes and less-than-perfect results. If you achieve everything you try, there is something wrong, you should dare more. In fact, to have an innovative breakthrough, you should start making at least twice as many mistakes as soon as possible.

Remember to quickly leave projects that don’t work, learn from your mistakes, and never do the same mistake twice.

The classic example is Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb:

I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work.”

7. Don’t listen to clients, listen to the market

Henry Ford:

If I had listened to my customers, I would have designed a faster horse.”

In 1998, Steve Jobs told Business Week:

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony:

I prefer to pay the launching of a product rather than a market study.”

8. Niche yourself.
The eighth commandment of innovation comes from the guru Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple: Find your place. Don’t try to be everything for everyone.

9. Question everything

Challenge assumptions, create the habit of constantly making the effort to ask searching questions “What if?” and “Why?”

“Some people look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?” –Robert Kennedy

These commandments include extracts from conferences by Yohan Ruso, former CEO Ebay France, and Frederic Fréry, professor at ESCP Europe and author of the foreword of the French translation of “The future of management” by Gary Hamel, the world’s most influential business thinker in 2008 by the Wall Street Journal. By the way, reinforcing the notorious French pessimism, the book’s title in French is “the end of management.”  All the conferences were shared live on the UniShared web platform.