What is it about?
Gary Hamel writes about the future of leading a company and explains that innovation will rather come from your normal employees than from the top management. He focuses on some outstanding companies like Cemex, Schwab or UPS.
Encourage activism: A lot of front line employees see problems that the (top) management can’t see. You have to enable every employee to share their ideas.
Build internal markets for talents, capital and ideas: A great way to allocate resources are markets. Hamel recommends to build internal markets for these components to allow people to execute their ideas.
Measure your innovation progress: If a idea seems fertile let people test it. If it succeeds let them build ventures and if this venture is successful try to spin-off or reintegrate this venture in your company. You probably have to generate lots of ideas for one successful venture, so start filling the funnel!
Leading the Revolution is a great book for its time. There are some really neat ideas like internal markets which are now successfully adapted (e.g. at Google). Furthermore, Gary Hamel understood the idea of crowdsourcing long before it became familiar.
What is it about?
The makers of Apple’s first mouse and Palm V talk about inventing new products. Tom Kelly, who is General Manager at IDEO, explains the basic principles of IDEO’s work. Each of these principles is supported by several short anecdotes.
Build Hot Teams: The less inertia the better. Let your staff work on projects as project teams. These project teams are Hot Teams if they have one purpose and a defined deadline. After this project the Hot Team is ready to split up and build new teams with other people.
Observe: Watch people using the existing product, to explore what could be improved. What works? What doesn’t? What could be added or removed? Particularly the last one is maybe too hard to answer by its actual users. So, use your knowledge and ideas to find answers.
Brainstorm: Tom Kelly thinks that Brainstorming is more a mindset than an activity. Brainstorm often, freely and without (too much) restrictions.
Prototype: If you build a new product, you should test it at fast and much as possible. Build some prototype and show them to your customers/boss and ask them what they like and dislike. Using this information build the next prototype and iterate.
Use verbs not nouns: Your product shouldn’t just be a thing, it should be a experience. If you think about Hawaii, you probably think of beaches, sunshine and hula girls. If you think about Volvo, you probably think of safety. It’s a experience, not just a car or an island.
This book is just terrific. Each chapter is full of different stories about the work process and life at IDEO. Furthermore, it is very well written and divided into small sub chapters. If you are a creative person you will love this book. There is so much inspiration and flow and so little bureaucracy and rules.
What is it about?
Thomas A. Edison – the inventor of the modern world! Really? Randall Stross investigates Edison’s story and tries to find the real Edison. He doesn’t talk so much about the technical achievements, he rather focuses on Edison’s self-marketing. Showing how Edison exaggerated, told lies and played with the media.
Famous doesn’t mean profitable: Edison got famous while working on the first version of the phonograph. But it took him four years for the first commercial version and another 20 years for the improved one.
It’s not about you: Edison’s life and business was about Edison. He wanted that the phonograph was used as a dictating machine. But the customers wanted to use his machine for music because its dictating abilities were pretty poor. It didn’t interest Edison, he was too pigheaded to commit himself to his customers.
Don’t try to control everything: Moreover it did not stop there. Henry Ford called Thomas Edison “the world’s worst business man” but it didn’t bother Edison. Also, there were so many opportunities which were missed. Furthermore, he had big problems operating his companies efficiently. While building his first power grid he needed about $30,000 per square mile to install the power lines, while his competitions only needed about $500.
Look into new fields: Edison worked in lots of businesses. From providing electricity to mining. He immersed in different fields which helped to stabilize his aura as the inventor of the modern world.
The stories are highly interesting because you see how he failed (See: Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur) and you’ll learn about his most remarkable move: He built a strong relationship with important journalists how praised him continuously. He knew how to market himself.
In conclusion, Edison didn’t invent the light, but he did invent personal branding for business people.