Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What can Canada learn about innovation from the career of Steve Jobs? There are two important lessons! - By Roger Martin - one of my favourite Business thinkers of the present time!

From the link: http://upfront.pwc.com/growth/91-canada-should-zero-innovation?utm_source=canada-home-page&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=up-front

(Read the full article from the link above)

In the wake of the tragically premature demise of Steve Jobs, it seems appropriate to ask: What can Canada learn about innovation from the career of Steve Jobs? I think there are two important lessons that we could take away.

1) Innovation is as important as Invention.
2) Try things that are not proven yet - think out of the box.

The first lesson is that commercial success and impact is more about innovation than about invention. Invention is the creation of some new-to-the-world technology, molecule, material, or formula. It is typically the product of the curiosity of a scientist. It can be pretty earth-shattering when it is electricity or insulin. But it can be pretty irrelevant when it is a technology in search of a user. The second lesson is that successful innovation actually means trying things that are unproven.

What would Canadian governments do if they took these two lessons to heart?

a) Understand end users and delight them by fulfilling their needs.
b) Stop blindly benchmarking and start customizing.

First, they would recognize that they have invested enough in invention. There is nothing whatsoever to suggest that pushing harder on the government-funded invention button is going to produce more innovation in Canada. Our government investment in R&D is already higher (adjusted for country size) than that of the United States, despite the U.S. being 15-per-cent richer than we are.

The job, instead, is to increase focus on boosting our capacity for innovation - for truly understanding users and figuring out entirely new ways to delight them. When we produce more customer delight, we will grow more large and prosperous businesses that create high-paying jobs and generate tax revenues for our governments to invest.

Second, they would commit to innovation in innovation policy. Rather than innovate, Canadian innovation policy pretty much benchmarks what is done elsewhere, and does it here. If the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. appears to be a success, then we restructure the Medical Research Council to become the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. If other jurisdictions have Centres of Excellence, then we decide to have some of those too. If Israel has a Chief Scientist, we get one of those too. And we operate them all as close to the success models elsewhere as possible.

We can benchmark and replicate until we are blue in the face. While there is no shame in incorporating others’ inventions - as Mr. Jobs did with the mouse, touch screen, etc., let’s stop thinking that incorporating others’ inventions exactly as they have been done elsewhere will produce uniquely attractive results.

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