This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original Forbes article
My business is helping companies speed up innovation – often by partnering with tech startups. A wilder ride compared to my days leading innovation at Fortune 100 companies. But lately, I’ve experienced enough déjà vu to get a platinum medical marijuana card. Maybe you’ve heard of “multiple discovery”. The theory says that similar inventions happen simultaneously because of converging technologies and common problems. Among mobile payments and loyalty startups, easy money is fueling what I call “marginal discovery” – slight variations on similar ideas. For every truly outstanding startup, five or six have a faulty premise, fail to solve a problem, or choose “cool” over simple. To protect the innocent, I’ve turned my list of frustrations into a set of “rules” to help budding entrepreneurs and experienced executives steer clear of the weed dispensary…
I don’t remember exactly when my dad told me to “measure twice and cut once”, but it must have been right before I nearly sawed my fingers off doing one of our many tenement improvement projects. My family and I immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union. We lived in a small Brooklyn apartment where everything always broke, but would never know the joy of being fixed by a licensed professional. Instead, there we were – my engineer dad and I, wearing our irregular Fruit of the Loom T-shirts, poking, prodding and making sparks, like a pair of Iranian scientists trying to launch a chimp into space. We installed air conditioners, fixed pipes, and used a geriatric Soviet drill that would deafen Metallica. It’s only recently that I realized my dad’s advice was both the greatest and worst thing I ever got. And, it’s cast a huge shadow over my life and how I view business…and the world.
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I had a great conversation with Yifat Cohen about what I see happening in the global economy, the future of American Innovation and what you can do about it. It’s the first time I’ve spoken in such detail about some of the core ideas in my book, Econovation. Get ready for the end of consumerism and rise of what I call ‘producerism’. You can watch the video or listen to the audio podcast.
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Lately, several executives and aspiring entrepreneurs have asked me the same terrifying question: “What should I do next?” I’m not sure how I became Dr. Phil for anxious professionals, but suddenly I’m fighting the urge to grow a bushy, un-ironic mustache. Maybe writing a book about the future of US innovation makes people assume you have all kinds of answers… But everyone seeks a slightly different answer. Some aspire to build the next Facebook. Others are deciding what product to launch. A few just want to break free from their desks – and possibly, set them on fire. Today, I’d like to share the advice I gave them – minus the smudged napkin drawings and fire safety lecture.
At first, it was funny to hear insurers, IT firms, and startups with no revenues compare themselves to Apple. Since the iPod launched in 2001, I’ve seen hundreds of presentations that liberally use “learnings” from Apple. 1) The word is LESSONS, not “learnings”, my Hillbilly friend. 2) The comparison feels as fresh as that Michael Jackson impression your spouse has been doing since you started dating. 3) Drenching slides (or products) in an iconic brand’s juices won’t transmit innovation, like some benevolent plague. If that were possible, we’d never stop harvesting and packaging Brangelina extract. It’s time for an intervention. Here’s why brands must find their own voice (and scent)…and keep those synthetic Apple fumes from turning into laughing gas.
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original Forbes article
I’ll be first to admit that I’m a reforming “innovation” trollop. I’ve thrown the word around too lightly, at any old sailor. I need a hot shower and a Brillo pad… What’s so bad about “innovation”? It doesn’t mean much…and maybe never did. Today, we use it to describe an iPhone newsreader app and the reinvention of space travel by SpaceX. That’s more range than Meryl Streep. My business is about creating great products and services, so I look for great tech partners. Some are startups led by brilliant entrepreneurs, bursting with optimism and 5-Hour Energy. As they describe their app, game, or web service, their words scream Johnny Depp, but the reality is a bit more Judah Friedlander. No shame in that, but I sometimes wonder how we could get these brilliant minds to work on meatier problems. My concern isn’t for them, but for us. The US needs jobs and as I wrote in Econovation, the big numbers still come from physical, capital-intensive businesses. Here are three ways we can help make brilliant minds deliver bigger results.
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original article on Forbes.
In a way, innovation is like sex: those talking about it most are probably doing it the least. Before founding IdeaFaktory, I’ve had the privilege (and collateral hair loss) of innovating at top Fortune 100 firms, where ‘talk’ was unavoidable. So I decided to codify my lessons as The 4C’s of Innovation(TM). These are: context, creativity, capabilities, and most importantly, culture. Any innovation worth doing demands cultural change. But who will lead that change? And who will reject it? Why does the same ra-ra event move some employees to tears, but lands like the Hindenburg with others? No need to hire an army of psychologists to electroshock your workforce for answers. Unlike fluffier lists of people to hire, I’ve profiled the nine kinds of people in your company now who will make or break any innovation or change initiative. (For more on culture change, also check out my new podcast with this week’s guest Stan Slap.)
The 9 Corporate Personality Types and How to Inspire Them to Innovate. I’m excited to welcome Stan Slap to the podcast. Stan is the Chief Executive Officer of slap, the international consulting company renowned for achieving maximum commitment in manager, employee and customer cultures. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Bury My Heart at Conference Room B. Listen in as we discuss what keeps companies from innovating and how to get emotional commitment from management in a way that won’t make everyone cry or watch Dr. Phil.
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original article on Forbes
Writing “HP is in trouble” is like a newscast starting with “Trouble in the Middle East today…” A sad cliché. Lucky for HP, no one dies… But no one truly lives, either. The company just laid off 29,000 people, its stock dropped 50% in a year, and yet another turnaround is brewing. I do admire Meg Whitman for taking this on. She could easily have kicked back in Florida with a Honey Boo Boo marathon. Instead, her strategy announcement got the kind of reception typically reserved for Syrian dictators. That got me wondering – can a stagnating behemoth ever live again? Could HP lead the 3D Printing revolution?
I join web marketer and comedian Jordan Cooper on the latest episode of his Blenderhead podcast. Together, we explore the dark, funny underbelly of the tech economy. As I told Jordan, I had two choices to commit career suicide: go on his show or get a massive face tattoo. Clearly, I made the right decision.
This is a re-post of my original article on Harvard Business Review
I’ve often fantasized about hurling my laptop over Niagara Falls, then grilling a fresh salmon to celebrate my sensory liberation. I’d become a Maker. I’d build a sailboat to circle the globe. I’d live off the sea, fending off killer whales and Somali pirates. I’m not alone in yearning to resuscitate my flabby Tweeting muscles. As I’ve written before, there’s plenty of evidence that people who make a tangible product, use their senses, and help others are happier than mere office dwellers. But let’s face it, Microsoft won’t pay you to conquer the Amazon or extract salmon roe. Offices are where the work is. Which explains why I’m here — with you — writing about making things instead of weatherproofing my pirate-repelling catapult. But there is a glimmer of hope for us Clickers, Copy/Pasters, Conference-Callers, and Collators. In this digital office world, happiness can — and must — be simulated.