Here’s a nice talk by Tom Peters on innovation. Some of the points that jumped out at me:
- He again emphasises the importance of process/business model innovation – we simply can’t get stuck on only thinking of new products as innovation.
- The idea that you should only buy from vendors that are in the top 10% of their industry in R&D expenditure is pretty interesting. Yes, R&D is spending is only a proxy for innovation, and not a great one – but his main point, that you need to work with the most innovative people and firms that you can find is well taken.
- Good ideas can come from anywhere – not just inside your firm. Yes!
- “The bottleneck is at the top of the bottle” – quoting Gary Hamel, Peters says that great innovation doesn’t come from corporate headquarters.
- Diversity of mental approaches is important – for more on this, read The Difference by Scott Page.
- “Who’s the most interesting person that you’ve met in the past 90 days?” – interesting question, and probably worth asking…
- Interesting point on incremental innovation – he cites studies that suggest that people/processes with higher levels of variation end up being more innovative than those with tightly controlled output. So maybe lean/six sigma aren’t compatible with innovating? I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on that…
- I like his idea that firms should be built to perform for 20 years, then move on to something new. That rings pretty true to me.
I know that Peters’ stuff isn’t necessarily overburdened with support from well-deisgned research studies, but I still find him to be consistently interesting, often inspirational, and most imprtantly to me, someone that talks about the world of business in a way that is very conssitent with the way that I’ve experienced it. So I don’t read him to find out the truth – I read him to get ideas. And he’s great for that.