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Business Innovation Blog

Read about marketing, innovation, emerging technology and Design Thinking Methods. Includes lean startup, agile development and rapid prototyping tools.

4 Things I Learnt from the Greatest Innovation Authors


Reexamining the work of great authors often leads to breakthroughs. As part of a series on innovation authors for the Moonshots Podcast, I went back to the greats.

Chad and I recently studied Peter Drucker, Clayton Christensen, Simon Sinek and Eric Ries. Each of these authors reminded me of some simple, yet powerful ideas.

These ideas are easy to say and hard to do. So let's review these four ideas and reflect on why they are so powerful and how we can make them come true in our workday.

Peter Drucker and the Importance of Time

Drucker is the godfather of business management. He was a prolific writer, and his ideas permeate the business world. He coined ideas such as the 'first things first', 'knowledge worker', and 'Management by objectives'.

One of his most primary ideas is that we must manage our time to be effective.

Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.

Peter Drucker

Drucker began focusing on the importance of time during the middle of the 19th century. Fast-forward to the digital age, and we're all battling to tame the beast of time.

I often see executives with a calendar that is booked with back to back meetings and calls. I always wonder… when do they hope to do some writing and thinking?

I've found doing my deep work in the morning before 10 am as the key to managing the time in my day.

Clay Christensen and the Role of Execution in Innovation

Christensen catapulted Innovation onto the main stage. Thanks to his body of work we have some core concepts that frame growth and disruption in the corporate world.

Despite his work ushering in many strategic concepts around innovation, what I like about his academic based practice is the emphasis he puts on practical ideas of working with customers and execution.

A strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it's effectively implemented.

Clayton M. Christensen.

It's easy to let ideas remain strategic and stuck in a PowerPoint deck. Ideas are common; successful implementations are hard work. Moreover, Christensen reminds us to go back to the source of innovation - the customer.

I always ask a founder or entrepreneur 'What idea validation have you done with customers?'. This question helps us return to the pains and gains of customers and avoid PowerPoint guessing games. Moreover, it's the start of the unavoidable grind of execution.

Simon Sinek and the Power of Asking Why

Sinek is the man of the moment. He has a robust understanding of human behaviour and leadership. I respect that he has been so open about his challenges as the source of his breakthroughs.

Not only has Sinek helped us ask 'Why?'. He's also put a twist on servant leadership in the workplace. His forthcoming work will present a new mental model for leaders - the Infinite Mindset.

People don’t buy What you do; They buy why you do It.

Simon Sinek.

Asking 'Why?' is a practice that always delivers excellent thinking. I find when companies forget to ask "Why are they making a product?" or "why do they exist?" they often go the way of Blockbuster or Kodak.

I recommend this template for asking Why.

We make/do/provide XYZ
Our unique approach is XYZ
Because we believe when we do XYZ amazing things like XYZ happen

Eric Ries and the Value of Learning

Ries has given us the best way to de-risk the building of a new product or service. His Lean Startup framework helps us focus on being more focused and more efficient in the steps towards product glory.

Central to his work is ideas such as 'Pivot', 'MVP', and 'Validating'. These ideas all come together to form a blueprint to building product in a radically new way. However, above anything stands his emphasis on learning.

The Only way to win is to Learn Faster Than Anyone Else.

Eric Ries

Guessing versus learning is the most significant contrast point in the old and new ways of building a product. All too often, the traditional, or waterfall, approach to innovation requires making a complete guess on what the customer wants and the business model that will pay for it all. Crazy!

The Lean approach puts learning through customer tests at the start, middle and end of the design journey. I advise every entrepreneur and innovator to test their assumptions from day one — moreover, the way you conduct that test in with a prototype in the hands of your customer.