Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sometimes you have to ignore your audience

"If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses ." -Henry Ford

I love this quote. Why? Simple, Henry Ford didn't have anyone clamoring at him to create the automobile. In fact it didn't make any sense to his audience. But he knew deep down somewhere that the car would create huge opportunities and propel the US forward.

In today's world of focus groups and audience response, we are so defined by what our audience wants. We cannot imagine a context that isn't defined by our customers. But the reality is that the really great innovations did not come about by listening to focus groups. They came about by people responding to that gut level feeling about what was needed "for such a time as this."

I'm not saying that focus groups are bad. But I am saying that just because people don't think they need an innovation doesn't mean you shouldn't develop it. Look at the world around you, look at the challenges and issues of your generation and create out of that opportunity!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rethinking Publishing

I have been focusing much of my innovative energies on new solutions for publishing. Recently I shared a white paper on Cause-Oriented Publishing. Just today I did a guest blog post for Somersault Group (a new publishing services company). Take a moment to read about what it looks like when Publishing turns into Leadership. And thanks to The Somersault Team for letting me be a part of their conversation!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Keep the Innovation . . . Loose the Pride

Have you noticed that so many of the most successful innovators are very self-confident? Well, it makes sense. If you believe that your idea can change the world – that takes quite a bit of confidence.

But here is the question, “How can you build the confidence you need to push new innovations through the pipeline without being prideful?

I wonder if it is possible. The reason is simple. If you spend all day telling yourself and those you are trying to convince that you have the solutions to their problems, you build yourself up until pride is a foregone conclusion.

This is especially true when others encourage you. In innovation work we seem to get two extremes. Either people think we are the best thing that has ever happened to our industry or people think our new ideas are completely worthless. There doesn’t seem to be much in the middle.

The funny thing is innovators have a way of staying confident even when the whole world thinks their innovation is absolutely worthless.

Here are some thoughts on how to remain humble as an innovator:

  1. Hang out with people who are more talented than you are. This helps you see that while you are a very talented person, others are also gifted.
  2. Read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes regularly . . . enough said.
  3. Elevate the idea your innovation represents above your contribution to the idea. This helps keep the cause at the center and you out of that center spot.
  4. Talk to your critics regularly and listen actively.
  5. Ask God to remove pride from your life daily. I would even encourage you to write a special prayer that you put in your Bible so that you can pray an intentional prayer regularly.