First thing first, innovation can be dangerous, and in fact, without the element of danger, there can be no innovation. “Innovators embrace risk as an ally, they look for risk as an indicator of where others fear to go–and then they go there.” Too often, organizations lose their drive for innovation because they seek to avoid risk. Indeed, part of the reason they avoid innovation is because it often requires them to share information with outsiders. Rather than taking the chance of revealing too much about themselves, organizations often find themselves stifling innovation.
If an organization is willing to take the risk, it should be able to embrace the second law which states that innovators are impervious to rejection. In other words, innovators are able to shrug off failure and try again. Many companies are hesitant to innovate because of the short-term reactions by the financial markets to their performances. A company that invests heavily in innovation might see its quarterly earnings suffer, sparking a decline in share value. Companies must be willing to endure these brief episodes of doubt and rejection with an eye toward the long-term gains that true innovation can ensure.
The third law states that invention is not innovation. An invention is merely a short-term development–a new gadget that could find its way into a landfill within a few months. To be innovative, the invention must make a long-term impact on people’s lives. “Innovation is about change that matters, change that creates a new experience; it’s about changing behavior.” Among the recent innovations that have fundamentally changed people’s lives are Apple’s development of iTunes, which has forever changed how people buy music; establishment of the online auction site eBay, which has changed the way in which people shop for merchandise; the growth of Dell Computers, which has changed the way people buy computers by personalizing each purchase; and General Motors’ development of OnStar, the onboard safety and navigation system that has changed people’s expectations for what their cars can do for them. “These are all examples of business model innovation,” “Obvious in themselves, but obviousness is the foundation of every great innovation.”
The fourth law states that innovation cannot be achieved alone–it takes teams or at least help from other organizations to be innovative. For example, consider the trend among winners of the Nobel Prize for physics. During the first 50 years of the 20th century, most winners of the Nobel Prize for physics were individuals. Since then, most winners have been teams of scientists since modern problems are too large to solve single-handedly.
The final law states that innovation always represents a threat to somebody. Regardless of the innovation, it will undoubtedly replace an old way of doing things. Because the livelihoods and fortunes of many people rely on the old ways, innovators will constantly find themselves challenged.
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