Learn how to design good experiments and results to help you make decisions.
- The four steps of the innovator's method are used by individuals who really understand how to lead the innovation process. And what you have to understand is that, the way you lead an innovation process is very different than the way you lead a traditional management process. In fact, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, told us, "In my companies, we will hire you in spite of an MBA, "not because of one." We don't get innovation from MBAs, was what he was telling us.
Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, told us, "An MBA that comes to us has to be completely retrained, "because nothing they've learned "will help them with innovation." The point is this: In many management schools today, and business schools, people are taught how to sustain a customer, not how to create a brand new customer. They're not taught how to experiment, they're not taught how to test hypotheses, they're not taught how to prototype. This is a different skillset, but this is the skillset that's required, if you want to be a good innovator yourself, and a good leader of innovation.
And so, you might think that you are a good manager, but you have to ask yourself: Am I a good leader of innovation? Do I know how to be a chief experimenter in my team or organization, as opposed to just the chief decision-maker? When we have a problem to solve, do I ask myself, what's the best experiment we could run that would tell us what the right answer is, to do right here? When Nabisco went to China, the leaders went with the Oreo cookie, as a leading product that had sold well around the world.
And what happened? It didn't sell. Chocolate Oreo cookies didn't work in China. So do you just give up on the market? I mean, an Oreo is an Oreo, after all. Are you going to change it? Experimenting leaders are willing to take the risks to experiment, to try something new. The leaders in China decided to take a risk. Why does an Oreo have to be round? Why does it have to be chocolate? Why not peanut butter? Why not green tea? Why not layers? Why not straw-shaped? They tried multiple options, including bubble gum, which actually didn't sell well.
But at the end of the day, they were able to provide the market with dozens of Oreo versions, that led to a sixfold increase in sales. Because they were willing to experiment with an iconic product, and change it in ways that it had never been changed before. That's what innovative leaders do. They know how to experiment, to find, to learn their way to a solution that will make a difference and change the world.
In conclusion, let me see if I can help bring together the innovator's DNA, and the innovator's method a bit. The innovator's DNA is fundamentally about how you get creative ideas. Sort of the first step of the innovator's method. And the innovator's method is how you turn those ideas into innovations that are commercialisable and valuable. But I want you to remember, at each step of the innovator's method, you're wanting to generate as many options as possible.
You want to diverge, before you converge on what you think is the best solution. One of the things we know about innovation is that quantity breeds quality. The more options you can generate, the more likely you are to hit on something that would work. That means, you want to engage all of the four behaviors of the innovator's DNA, as you're trying to generate insights and ideas, but then you also want to do the same thing when you're trying to understand whether this solves a problem for the customer.
So you want to question, you want to ask why? Why not? What if? What if we tried this with the customer? We want to do the same thing with networking, to talk to people who may have ideas of what problem we really need to solve, and we're doing the same thing with observing. When you look at the solution phase, again, you want to question, you want to observe, you want to network, and you are experimenting, as you build the prototypes. As you engage each of those behaviors at each step of the method, it increases the probability that you will hit on, stumble on, generate an idea that can really make a difference.
And so I encourage you to personally learn how to be a better questioner, observer, networker and experimenter, but also learn how to take that idea, and how to immerse yourself with customers, to make sure you've really nailed a problem that people are willing to pay for, that you then go and generate lots of solution options with experiments and prototypes, so that you come up with a solution that's truly awesome, not just viable, but something that people will really respond to, and it will fill not just a functional need, but a social and emotional need.
And that you then also try whatever you need to take that to the market in a way that people will want to grab that idea, and pull it into their lives, because it will make their lives so much better.