A good post with a letter from Thomas Edison to a young engineer in his company, from the new blog Online MBA.
This is from my notes — I think I got these from an article a few years ago:
- Innovation can come from without as well as within. Apple’s real skill lies in stitching together its own ideas with technologies from outside and then wrapping the results in elegant software and stylish design. Apple is an orchestrator and integrator of technologies, unafraid to bring in ideas from outside but always adding its own twists. This approach is known as network innovation.
- Apple illustrates the importance of designing new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology.
- Apple teaches us that smart companies should sometimes ignore what the market says it wants today.
- Fail wisely. Learn and try again.
The latest issue of Fast Company ranks the world’s 50 most innovative companies and contains a good article on why Facebook is number 1.
There are four categories of information you need to pay attention to when embarking on any significant endeavor:
- Things you know and know that you know.
- Things you know but don’t know that you know.
- Things you don’t know and know that you don’t know.
- Things you don’t know and don’t know that you don’t know.
Category four is what can be the real curve ball. The early space program is often given as an example of this: before we went into space, there were certain things we knew and could plan for (radiation, re-entry, etc.). But what were the things that we didn’t know that we wouldn’t even know were factors until encountering them? That was the challenge.
Which is why experimentation and trying things, sometimes in small steps, is so crucial. Since you can’t discover the things you don’t know that you don’t know any other way than by experience, taking action and embarking on paths of experimentation are essential to learning, for individuals and organizations.
This means that, to a certain extent, we need to be willing to tolerate risk and we need to be willing to tolerate failure.
Every project — every endeavor in organizations, society, and life — operates within three constraints:
Quality means how well it is done. Schedule means time — how long it takes. And resources means people and financial cost.
Here’s the meaning of this: these constraints are interdependent. And so you can hit it out of the park on any two of these areas, but not all three.
For example, if you want the end result to be very high in quality and done very quickly, it’s going to cost you a lot. Or if you want to use as little resources as possible, it’s either going to take you a very long time or you are going to have to sacrifice on quality.
You have to choose your priorities.
Here are some main reasons projects fail, from To Do Doing Done:
- Unclear goals or objectives
- Changing scope
- Insufficient resources
- Conflicting priorities
- Lack of knowledge
- Poor communications
- Lack of leadership
- Lack of management support
- Lack of teamwork
- Poor planning
- Political issues
From To Do Doing Done:
“In our increasingly demanding world, the people who succeed will be the ones who can initiate and complete challenging projects. They will be the ones who know how to create a vision that engages everyone involved in the project.”
This is a helpful, short video on the top 5 business writing blunders. (Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a way to embed it.)