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Innovation: What we know

Some people separate ideas from innovations and they draw the line at products. To be an innovation means you not only have an idea, but successfully deliver it to the world as a product. It’s not an innovation if it isn’t out in the world in someone’s service. So you can take someone else’s ideas, and if you’re the first to make a product out of them, you’re an innovator (e.g. Edison and the lightbulb, Apple and the iPod).

Market-Creating Innovations are the new thing these days. These are innovations that transform complicated and expensive products into products that are simple and affordable so that many more people in society can access them. In some cases, these innovations are disruptive, but in every case the new markets that are created serve as a strong foundation for sustained economic growth.

After a lot of research with methodology by various knowledgeable professors, there are certain things about every innovation that come out as a common link. Some important ones are mentioned below.


1. NOT ALL INNOVATIONS ARE THE SAME

When we understand that there are different types of innovations, we begin to see how each impacts both a company and an economy differently. It turns out that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that a society must “fix” itself — its infrastructure, courts, legislatures, financial markets, and so on — before innovation and growth can take root, our research suggests that innovation is the process by which a society develops. Innovation funds our infrastructure, cultivates our institutions, and mitigates corruption. When a country’s prosperity stalls despite a lot of activity within its borders, that country might not have a development problem. It might have an innovation problem.


2. DATA IS NOT THE PHENOMENON

Data, metrics, and statistics are not the phenomena of many of the things we seek to understand. Data simply represents the phenomena. But substituting data for the phenomenon without truly understanding what is going on underneath that data can lead to devastating outcomes.


3. MANAGEMENT CAN BE A NOBLE PROFESSION

Management isn’t simply about P&L statements, meeting quarterly growth and profitability targets, and creating brand awareness. Those are by-products of good management. Management is about waking up every day and helping people become better people so they can do better work and live better lives.


4. DON’T RESERVE YOUR BESTSELF ONLY FOR YOUR CAREER

People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers — even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.


5. GOD DOES NOT HIRE ACCOUNTANTS

Human beings have finite minds; we need to aggregate. And so, every year, we aggregate sales, costs, and figure out earnings. We aggregate responsibilities and the person who is responsible for many things is valued as such. The CEO, for instance, is the most valuable person in an organization. It’s the way we — finite beings — make sense of all the things going on.


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