The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

HBR,  April 2012 Issue

EXPLORE THE ARCHIVE
His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America’s great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None of these men was a saint, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
—Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997

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Ambachtelijke Innovatie door architect Pierre Cuypers

Pierre Cuypers (1827-1921) was een Nederlands architect. Hij is bekend als de architect van het Rijksmuseum en het Centraal Station van Amsterdam. Cuypers heeft echter in zijn leven meer gebouwen ontworpen. Het is met name als je in Zuid-Nederland woont niet onwaarschijnlijk dat een door Cuypers ontworpen gebouw zich in je naaste omgeving bevindt. Hij is één van de grote voorbeelden van de beroemde architect H.P. Berlage.

In 1848 werd het de katholieken toegestaan om weer eigen kerken te bezitten, hetgeen sinds de reformatie in de 16e eeuw niet was toegestaan. Dit was voor een ondernemende architect een gigantisch gat in de markt, waar Cuypers met zijn neogotische stijl met zeer veel succes aan de slag ging. Hij bouwde in zijn leven ongeveer 70 kerken en veel bestaande kloosters en kerken werden door hem gerestaureerd en ondergingen een metamorfose.

Cuypers is geboren en getogen in Roermond en heeft daar altijd gewoond en gewerkt. Hij had daar zijn atelier en in de hoogtijdagen waren veel mensen bij hem in dienst. Het Cuypershuis is zeer de moeite waard om te bezoeken. Ik kende Cuypers nauwelijks en kwam eigenlijk voor de tijdelijke tentoonstelling van spotprenten uit de eerste wereldoorlog door Louis Raemaekers, maar werd snel gefascineerd door Pierre Cuypers en zijn wereld.

Aangezien innovatie altijd mijn interesse heeft was het een feest van herkenning om bij Cuypers ook die essentiële combinatie van vaardigheden waar te kunnen nemen. De combinatie van een nieuwe kijk op een systeem, het vermogen tot het bouwen van een nieuw commercieel netwerk en het gedegen vakmanschap op vele niveaus van details tot de passing van het gebouw in zijn omgeving en tenslotte  ondernemerschap. in dit opzicht is er weinig verschil tussen zijn tijd en onze tijd.

Cuypers maakte al zijn meubels zelf en geïnspireerd door een voorbeeld (volgens mij uit Frankrijk) maakte hij de volgende kast. (Zie afbeelding).

De kast gebouwd door Pierre Cuypers
De kast gebouwd door Pierre Cuypers

Die kast staat voor mij symbool voor de eerder genoemde combinatie. Op de kast staan namelijk twee rijen van afbeeldingen. De bovenste rij representeert allerlei “geestelijke, strategische en sprituele” vaardigheden en de onderste rij allerlei “ambachtelijke en technische” vaardigheden. De kast getuigde voor mij van respect, interesse en integratie van beide niveaus van innovatie. Door met zowel het strategische als het technische bezig te zijn, ontwikkelde hij een geïntegreerde intuïtie op beide terreinen. Naar mijn mening de enige mogelijkheid om diepgaander te vernieuwen en te innoveren.

Veel managers nemen het woord innovatie snel in de mond, maar door de afstand met de inhoud ontwikkelt zich niet de zo noodzakelijke intuïtie. Deze is nodig om in onduidelijk en onzekere situaties met voldoende vertrouwen de goede keuzes en de goede wegen te volgen. Vaak uit zich dit in dralen of zelfs uitstellen van beslissingen. Het dralen vertaalt zich in de praktijk in het vragen naar een degelijke op feiten gebaseerde onderbouwing. Helaas als zaken feiten zijn geworden, is iemand je al voor geweest…. Ik geloof dat het een uitspraak van Dreesman is die stelde dat “een slechte manager altijd te weinig informatie heeft om te kunnen beslissen”.

Natuurlijk was Cuypers ook een slimme zakenman. Dat is aan details in het Cuypershuis te zien. Het Cuypershuis was eigenlijk gebouwd voor twee gezinnen. Voor zijn eigen gezin en voor zijn compagnon, die er overigens nooit gewoond heeft. Het huis is symmetrisch gebouwd, maar toch zijn er verschillen. Eén van de medewerkers maakte mij daarop attent. Aan de kant waar Cuypers woonde is het huis ook een soort etalage. Bijvoorbeeld, de mooie houten wenteltrap heeft aan zijn kant van het huis allerlei variaties in bijvoorbeeld de stijltjes. Daarmee kon hij potentiële klanten alternatieven laten zien. Ook aan de buitenkant van het huis zijn er allerlei variaties in de ramen en de ornamenten om dezelfde reden. Dit is één van de vele voorbeelden van het soort pragmatisme wat je bij echte creatieve ondernemers vaak aantreft. Cuypers is een inspirerend voorbeeld voor innoverend ondernemerschap van Nederlandse bodem en het Cuypershuis is alleszins een bezoek waard. Zijn belang voor Nederland en hoe Nederland er nu uitziet wordt naar mijn mening onderschat en ik hoop dat deze blog helpt om eens een kijkje te nemen in Roermond en je te laten inspireren door de wereld van Pierre Cuypers.

The Crucial Role of Coffee Machines in Innovation

The Real Purpose of Brainstorms

Often people are convinced that innovation come from brainstorms and from brilliant insights by individuals. However research in the last decades indicates differently.
Brainstorms have gradually developed towards Creative Problem Solving. In my view, it is a professional way of problem solving.  The most crucial and therefore vital phase in brainstorming is the first step focusing on “What is the problem and what are the facts that underpin the problem definition?” The next step is to generate ideas on the defined problem. Nowadays, in the “generating ideas” proces high levels of sophistication can be achieved (for example: TRIZ). But the essence of TRIZ proves that it is not a creative process, but a methodology consisting of logical deductive and inductive process steps. In other words it mostly remains in the domain of the known. It fits perfectly the ideas of the ancient Greeks. There is no term in the ancient greek language corresponding to “to create” or “creator”. The association the ancient Greeks had was a proces of discovery. Discovery implies it is already there, you just have to find it. Brainstorming is an excellent tool for sophisticated problem solving (and there are problems enough in innovation), but not the most logical process step for creating a breakthrough.

An Idea is a Network

Brilliant insights were always considered to come as a lightning stroke.  As a lamp bulb that turns on and suddenly sheds light on a solution or insight, the so called  “Eureka” moment. There is a nice TED-talk “Where good ideas come from” by Steven Johnson. But nowadays psychologists challenge this view on creativity. As an example Johnson in his talk refers to Howard Grubers work on Darwin. Based on the analysis of Charles Darwin journals, Johnson states that all the basic concepts of Darwin’s “Theory of Natural Selection” were already described in his journal a long period before Darwin had his “Eureka” moment. His key statement “An idea is not a single thing popping-up in an illuminating moment, it is a network”.

Johnson concluded that new ideas and insights come from either interaction with people that have different points of view. This is one way of providing an experience that surprises people and intrigues them. In his talk, he discusses the important role of the first coffee house, “The Grand Cafe in Oxford”. In these places scientist from different disciplines and started discussions, which in the end  led to the birth of Enlightment. This basic insight I have often used to advice innovation managers on making their organisation more creative.

The Importance of Coffee Machines

AllenCurve

In essence you want to enhance the opportunity that people meet with different backgrounds and discuss in an unplanned, informal way. Location is an issue. In the late Seventies Thomas Allen already revealed the relation between the probability of unplanned, informal interaction and distance. See figure.

Suppose, you as a manager have a gut feel that there is a high probability of finding novel ideas if two groups of people would interact more. The first step would be to share this “strategic intent” to the people in the group and see whether some individuals from both groups are intrigued and show self-propelling behavior to explore this. Then apply Allen’s findings and co-locate the groups without trying to integrate organizationally. If you would integrate the groups, before you know, time and energy is spend on a classical group development process  – the storming, norming, forming and performing thing instead of exploration. An important underlying enabler is to do this via informal interaction. In this way a coffee machine and a nearby table where people can gather and interact are very instrumental for fostering innovation in organizations.

How To Measure Innovation Performance?

Measuring Innovation Performance

Often companies express their innovation effort (in general R&D) as a % of sales. This is, as shown in this blog, a limited way of measuring innovation performance. In my courses and trainings I always use an alternative indicator for innovation performance by adding an historical perspective. I figured out this indicator over 15 years ago, when I came to the insight that, if in hindsight we can’t measure past innovation performance, how can we make any statements about future innovation performance, since these are only predictions based on extrapolations and deductions of the past?

The blog starts with a simple definition of Innovation and then link innovation to added value. Then some issues with measuring new added value are discussed and alternatives are proposed.

What is Innovation?

The word innovation comes from the root Latin word, “Innovare” and it means to renew, start again and initiate change [1]. This is a very broad definition and in this blog we would like to be more focused and keep it simple by discussing an example of one organisation delivering a product to a customer. The approach is extendable to product categories, networks and to services. An important decision is the level of granularity that offers most valuable insights.

In it’s simplest form, we define innovation as follows:

Innovation is that part of the added value of a product sold to a customer that is new to him or her.

Creating Value

Innovation and Added Value
Figure 1. The transactional adding value process

Suppose we are a supplier, that offers a product. The customer buys and uses our product  and this hopefully 🙂 adds value to to him or her (See fig 1. added value 1). This added value is an experience in the brain of the customer. Unfortunately, at this moment in time we do not have accurate means to measure the sensations in the brain of a customer associated with creating value. With current developments in brain research, this may change in the future.
Still, if we can measure the sensations, there a second hurdle to take. Already in 1992, C. de Bont indicated that this experience of added value is also strongly depending on previous experiences and expectations of the customer. The sensations may not be caused by the product alone, they are always in an psychological and application context.

Of course, since we are in business, we expect something back in return (added value 2). This can be money, information (information about use, preferences and behaviour of the customer) and goodwill (sharing positive experiences with others (measured for example by the Net Promotor Score [4]), positive attitude, loyalty to the product and making it easier for us to sell the product more and easier.

 Creating New Value

Innovation in our definition is identified by that part in the added value (1) percieved by the customer, that is new to him or her. Due to the lack of observability, we can only guess what the true value of the ‘new’ part is for the customer. The most reliable feedback at this moment is added value (2), how much do we get back? This is also influenced by the difference in bargaining power bertween us and the customer and is part of the competitive context in which this transaction takes place.

I prefer to pragmatically define our measurable innovation performance as

  1. the added value (2), we get back in return from the customer and
  2. figure out a way what the dominant reasons are to buy the product and
  3. find the correlation with brand, product features or (delivery and communication)-process features that are new.

To take this one step further, consider tracking whether customers are postively or negatively surprised by the product when using it. Because, this may lead to increased or decreased goodwill, impacting future sales.

Let’s give a basic example to get the idea.

Figure 2. Basic definition of the innovation performance of a single product

Suppose a customer walks out of a store and has bought your product and as he walks out of the store you ask him or her the following question:

Why did you buy this product?

We assume you are an excellent market researcher and you know how to get a valid and reliable answer (that is not trivial) and the answer given can be in the end allocated to one of two categories:

The customer buys the product,

  1. because of product aspects that were already present in earlier generations of this product or experiences with the company OR
  2. because of product aspects that are new and for the first time introduced in this newest product generation.

I often challenge people to make an estimate for one of the product categories of their companies. Examples came up where participants estimated that 80 % of the sales was based on past performance: previous experiences, relationships, product characteristics or believes, perceptions on the product brand of previous generations of products or brand experiences about the company (maybe even totally outside of the scope of this product)

After asking enough customers to make your conclusions robust, you can make a chart that looks like figure 2.

To take this one step further, consider tracking whether customers are postively or negatively surprised by the product when using it, since this may lead to increased or decreased goodwill, impacting future sales.

Innovation Leverage and Innovation Performance of the Product (IPP)

Figure 3. Innovation Performance amongst Product Generations
Figure 3. Innovation Performance of the Product (IPP) amongst Product Generations

By tracking innovation performance for each product generation, interesting observations can be made.

High Innovation Performance sounds good. However, the leverage of innovation in a previous product generation can be much higher and stretch over many future product generations, this however limits the current innovation performance.

In figure 3, you see an example that innovation in past product generations via creating loyalty or increasing switching costs is still adding value (2) in the future generations to come. This is a highly appreciated situation, that implies a high innovation leverage and the creation of a sustainable advantage.

Every advantage has it’s disadvantage

If an innovative organisation is in this (comfortable) situation for a long time, the management must be aware that the innovation competence of an organization is less challenged and the innovation engine may become lazy and slow.

On the other hand, low leverage of past innovative performance is also not without issues. Although low leverage of past innovation performance often leads to world-classes enabling(!) innovation competences, one has to keep throwing resources in the innovation engine, but the innovation leverage remains low. Moreover, goal-finding innovation capabilities do not develop, because the set of value drivers on which the customer assess your product are in most cases well-known. In extreme cases, every product generation is a new ball game. Many “mature” component companies are in this situation especially when competition is heavy and companies are played out against each other by their customers. So excellent innovation engine, but no profit.

What about competition?

Figure 4. Innovation Performance In The Market (IPM)
Figure 4. Innovation Performance In The Market (IPM)

The Innovation Performance of the Product may give already quite some insight. However, it is rather internally focused and that is not very wise to do nowadays.

Therefore in figure 4, we have added the market share development in the figure rescaling the data in figure 3. Now although innovation leverage (from the past) is higher, the company is loosing market share and probably not competitive enough. Personally I think that, if this is a next level indicator: Innovation Performance In the Market (IPM). The formula is

IPM = IPP x Market Share (or Relative Market Share = Market Share against your largest competitor)

IPM in this example says that 5.5 % of the market bought your product because of the innovation in product generation N. Next generation that was reduced to 3.1 %. Message: You are in trouble in a fast growing market, your innovative sword has gone dull.

The short cut

Personally, I like short-cuts. I remember joining an innovation department and I wanted to get an idea of the Innovation Performance. I was asking the people, what was really new that had come out of the lab (for the last 2-3 product generations). I verified this with the commercial guys, get from them a best-guess what revenue we would have lost, if these new stuff would not have been there. And then it was easy to calculate a gutfeel innovation performance of the department.

Innovation Performance measures the Innovation Engine of the Complete. Organisation, not just the R&D organisation

I must warn not to use this as an indicator to judge an innovation department. There are many other departments as well as higher management that influence innovation performance.

Innovation Performance is measuring the output of the innovation process and it helps to look for bottlenecks in the innovation flow that limit the bang for the buck spend on innovation.

Ruud Gal

September 18th 2014

Any questions or need for support to get an idea of the innovation performance of your company and define actions to improve innovative behavior of the organisation, do not hesitate to contact me.

Innovation Performance is one of the topics in our Innovation Management Training & Coaching. See www.im-tc.nl

References

  1. http://activatechurch.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/innovare/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innovation
  3. Prof.dr. C.J.P.M. de Bont, “Consumer Evaluations of Early Product-Concepts”, Thesis, TUD 1992
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_Promoter

Great Innovators Steal

Posted on September 8, 2014 by Pete Foley

In 1996 Steve Jobs expressed strong agreement with a quote he ascribed to Pablo Picasso, Good artists copy; great artists steal. This is a meme with a long pedigree, and has also been expressed in very similar terms by other creative giants, from T S Elliot to Stravinsky.

With quotations, there is often debate around who said exactly what and when. However, what I love about them is that, like proverbs, they often very succinctly capture a powerful insight. I believe this is one such insight, and one worth stealing. While the idea itself is hardly new, I believe that looking at it through the lens of Behavioral Science, and hence using analogy, enabled by deep causal understanding, and problem mapping can teach us how to steal more effectively.

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10 Scientific Insights That Could Make You A Better Designer

INSIGHTS FROM FIELDS SUCH AS BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS AND COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY CAN HELP DESIGNERS BUILD BETTER PRODUCTS.

WRITTEN BY Nikki Pfarr

In the design world, the term “persuasive design” tends to be met with a mix of intrigue, skepticism, and occasionally repugnance. (Doesn’t persuasion imply that we’re forcing people to do things they typically wouldn’t want to do?) And yes, it’s true that persuasive design, like many tools, can be used for good or for evil.

But the reality is, regardless of whether we label a piece of work as “persuasive design” or not, most of the things we design–from toothbrushes to tablets to road signs–are influencing people’s decisions and behaviors in some way. We may not intend it to happen, and we may not be aware of it, but it’s happening.

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Testing in the Social Sector

By Dan Connolly, Guest Contributor and Matthew Darling, Guest Contributor on 01/29/2014

What organization doesn’t want to describe itself as “outcome oriented” and “data driven”? These two buzz phrases highlight a growing interest in the social sector for measuring and tracking concrete outputs in order to demonstrate organizational impact.

Beyond the usual metrics, however, is the need to measure the impact of specific program changes or initiatives. One useful tool for testing the effects of a change is the randomized controlled trial (RCT), the “gold standard” for evidence across many domains. In our last blog post, we discussed how RCTs are useful because they cut through the bias introduced by our motivations and allow us to assess the impact of a specific idea. Many good ideas just don’t have an impact in the real world, and testing is important to make sure that resources are spent in ways that have real effects on welfare. In the BETA Project, we conducted RCTs at two of our partner sites, Accion Texas and Cleveland Housing Network.

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Innovatie en usability botsen met een kracht van 9 op de schaal van perceptie

BRAM KOSTER, MARKETINGFACTS 28 JANUARI 2014

Bij het (her)ontwerp van een product of dienst ben je als marketeer natuurlijk enthousiast. Klanten vaak een stuk minder. Een keer of 9 minder zelfs.

The 9x Effect

“Hou bij het design of redesign van een website rekening met het zogenaamde ‘9x-effect’: als eigenaar overwaardeer je de nieuwe site met een factor 3 en gebruikers overwaarderen de huidige website met een factor 3. De onderlinge afstand in perceptie is dus een factor 9.”

Vaak zeggen je collega-marketeers wat je instinctief al aanvoelt, maar wat je zelf niet verwoord krijgt. Of ze laten je op een andere manier naar de materie van je alledaagse werk kijken. Zo ook Willem-Jan Jansen, user experience lead bij Marktplaats. Hij refereerde tijdens de 2013-editie van Marketingfacts Updates aan ‘The 9x Effect’, zoals beschreven in een artikel in Harvard Business Review.

In dat artikel beschrijft de auteur John T. Gourville hoe gebruikers de waarde van een product irrationeel overwaarderen; ze zijn skeptisch over het nieuwe product en tevreden met het huidige, zien de noodzaak tot overstap niet. En tegelijkertijd is de overwaardering van het nieuwe product door het bedrijf zelf net zo irrationeel: ze zien de noodzaak uiteraard wel, zijn ontevreden over het huidige product en zien het nieuwe product als de benchmark.

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