Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Fostering Innovation

Running a startup, a research group, or any other group of people who are trying to create something out of nothing is fun, difficult, trying, and a slew of other things. But what it primarily is is intense.

Many times folks ask me how to keep people motivated and I’m typically at a loss. I don’t know how I do it. Maybe I’m just super charismatic. Or maybe I spin a good yarn. I really don’t know. But I seem to do something since folks follow me about and many have said they’d still like to work with me — and some still do, even two or three jobs/companies later.

But what is it that folks most enjoy? Often I’m told it’s the notion of “fostering innovation” or of “not suffering fools” or being “brutally honest”. Perhaps. I’m just too enmeshed to notice. However, Brad Bird of Pixar was interviewed by The McKinsey Quarterly and had some deeply insightful things to say that echo many of the things I’ve said. Of course, Bird says them so much better than I ever have so read his interview here. For those too lazy, here is a list of his Ten Lessons, all of which are nothing short of brilliantly explained in the linked article.

  1. Herd Your Black Sheep
  2. Perfect is the Enemy of Innovation
  3. Look for Intensity
  4. Innovation Doesn’t happen in a Vacuum
  5. High Morale Makes Creativity Cheap
  6. Dont Try To “Protect your success”
  7. Steve Jobs Says ‘Interaction = Innovation’
  8. Encourage Inter-disciplinary Learning
  9. Get Rid of Weak Links
  10. Making $$ Can’t Be Your Focus

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April 2008
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