World Innovation Forum* (*Modesty is everything) everything you thought you knew about innovation is wrong* (*Except, of course, what the other presenters have said/will say) Tom Peters/New York/0524. 2006

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World Innovation Forum* (*Modesty is everything) EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT INNOVATION IS WRONG* (*Except, of course, what the other presenters have said/will say) Tom Peters/New York/0524.2006

“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—and produced Michelangelo, da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce— Source: Orson Welles, as Harry Lime, in The Third Man

—the cuckoo clock.”


“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” —General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff. U. S. Army

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin

“The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.” —James Yorke, mathematician, on chaos theory in The New Scientist

“We are in a brawl with no rules.” —Paul Allaire


Sam’s Secret #1!

Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.” Phil Daniels, Sydney exec

“In Tom’s world, it’s always better to try a swan dive and deliver a colossal belly flop than to step timidly off the board while holding your nose.”Fast Company /October2003

  • Nelson’s secret: “[Other] admirals more frightened of losing than anxious
  • to win”


What “We” Know “For Sure” About Innovation Big mergers [by & large] don’t work Scale is over-rated Strategic planning is the last refuge of scoundrels Focus groups are counter-productive “Built to last” is a chimera (stupid) Success kills “Forgetting” is impossible Re-imagine is a charming idea “Orderly innovation process” is an oxymoronic phrase (= Believed only by morons with ox-like brains) “Tipping points” are easy to identify … long after they will do you any good “Facts” aren’t All information making it to the top is filtered to the point of danger and hilarity “Success stories” are the illusions of egomaniacs (and “gurus”) If you believe the “cause & effect” memoirs of CEOs you should be institutionalized “Herd behavior” (XYZ is “hot”) is ubiquitous … and amusing “Top teams” are “Dittoheads” Statistically, CEOs have little effect on performance “Expert” prediction is rarely better than rolling the dice


  • Smashing Conventional Wisdom
  • “Blitzkrieg in fact emerged in a rather haphazard way from the experience of the French campaign, whose success surprised the Germans as much as the French. Why otherwise did the High Command try on various occasions, with Hitler’s backing, to slow the panzers down? The victory in France* came about partly because the German High Command temporarily lost control of the battle. The decisive moment in this process was Guderian’s decision to move immediately westward on 14 May, the day after the Meuse crossing, wrenching the whole of the rest of the army along behind him.”
  • *messed up traffic, little close air support, random heroics by
  • some small bits of Guderian’s forces, Guderian not a disciple of
  • the WWI-derived “strategy of indirect approach”
  • Source: Julian Jackson, The Fall of France

False Attributions German citizenry low morale, no appetite for war 3rd Republic government rather well regarded French Army in good shape, surprisingly well armed, decent strategy (in dozens of simulations, French usually win) Blitzkrieg not used Germans very vulnerable Lousy French intelligence* and luck perhaps determinant (*“intelligence information tends to be sifted to reinforce received ideas rather than to overturn them”) Many plausible competing hypotheses Source: Julian Jackson, The Fall of France (cf Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.)

First-level Scientific Success The smartest guy in the room wins” Or …

First-level Scientific Success Fanaticism Persistence-Dogged Tenacity Patience (long haul/decades)-Impatience (in a hurry/”do it yesterday”) Passion Energy Relentlessness (Grant-ian) Enthusiasm Driven (nuts!) (Brutal?) Competitiveness Entrepreneurial Pragmatic (R.F!A.) Scrounge (“gets” the logistics-infrastructure bit) Master of Politics (internal-external) Tactical Genius Pursuit of (Oceanic) Excellence! High EQ/Skillful in Attracting + Keeping Talent/Magnetic Prolific (“ground up more pig brains”) Egocentric Sense of History-Destiny Futuristic-In the Moment Mono-dimensional (“Work-life balance”? Ha!) Exceptionally Intelligent Exceptionally Clever (methodological shortcuts/methodological genius) Luck

Containerization* *Malcom McLean

Lessons Need-driven A thousand “parents” Messy Evolutionary “Trivial” Experimentation trial & ERROR Loooong time for systemic adaptation/s (many innovations) (bill of lading, standard time) Not … “Plan-driven” The product of “Strategic Thinking/Planning” The product of “focus groups”

Innovation’s “Secrets” Revealed: Get mad. Do something about it. Now.


Synonyms Purity Transcendence Virtue Elegance Majesty

Synonyms Purity Transcendence Virtue Elegance Majesty Antonym/s Mediocrity

Antonym/s Mediocrity


Franchise Lost! TP: “How many of you [600] really crave a new Chevy?” NYC/IIR/061205

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