Three things that caught my eye yesterday:
- An excellent post by Helen Walters, which included this section:
“The innovation shortcut is yours for the taking.”
This quote, from Gabor George Burt’s piece Why the Best Innovations Are About Relevance, Not Invention is the kind of statement to make blood run cold. Promising the earth and underplaying the difficult, time-consuming reality of innovation work is more than unhelpful. There’s no such thing as an “innovation shortcut” and promising one is unrealistic.
Walters then addresses some of the good points that Burt makes, but her main issue here is correct – there are no shortcuts to innovation.
- In the daily barrage of spam comments, there are always ones linking to sites with titles like “Buy Facebook Likes” and many about Search Engine Optimization. These, again, are shortcuts, and they work as well any other shortcut. In other words, they don’t work at all.
- Mindy McAdams wrote an interesting post called Branding: Should journalists build a personal brand? which includes her response to a quote from Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post:
“Now, the first goal seems to be self-promotion — the fame part, the “brand.” That’s because we know that, in this frenetic fight for eyeballs at all costs, the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.”
It’s very important that new or would-be journalists take Weingarten’s point to heart. There won’t be anything to be branded unless you have some substance to market, and that means much more than a talent for writing glibly. Lots of people have such a talent. Many of them spend their lives writing for an audience of one.
“The work” is just that — work — and as part of the work, you have to get off Facebook and go outside and speak to real live people. You have to read, widely and voraciously. You have to be curious about those who live in skins other than your own. You have to learn what makes a good story and how to tell a good story well.
Walters and McAdams both make the point that at the bottom, success is built on working hard, creating substance, and meeting the needs of people. This is what you have to do to innovate.
You can’t find an innovation shortcut by discovering a new source of great ideas. You have to do the work to figure out how to make the idea real, and to find a way to get the idea to spread.
Search engine optimization doesn’t do you any good if the search engines don’t point to something of substance – you have to do the work create something worth searching for.
You can’t create a personal brand out of nothing. You have to do the work to make something before promoting it does any good.
It’s not about your great ideas. Innovation is about executing your great ideas to create value.
You have to do the work first.