There have been some heated debates across the innovation forums and sites over the past few months concerning the role of talented people in the innovation process. ( see this post by HBR’s Art Markman for example). Is innovation about just getting the smartest people, the greatest brains, the most dynamic individuals and waiting for their ‘eureka’ moment? Or is it about being smarter with the talent you have, creating a culture that challenges how things are done and finding systematic gaps in the market? Or – is it about something else altogether?
I’ve just read Scott Berkun’s ‘Myths of Innovation‘ and Tom Kelley‘s ‘Ten Faces of Innovation’ (both excellent books) – and a recent article by psychologist Art Markman also now helps to support their view – that our obsession with individual heroic endeavor and discovery can often hinder true progress. The cultural myth of lone genius, tortured artist and brilliant technician who solves the worlds problems is still alive and well.
Two recent articles in HBR comment on the likely impact of Spotify – and how the launch of the Swedish music service could spell a radical change in the future of the music business, the broader content industry – and even Apple’s iTunes service. Maxwell Wessell points out that Spotify is a classic ‘low end disrupter’ that ironically could now have the same impact upon Apple – that iTunes originally had on the music retailing business – whilst James Allworth suggests consumers could get a shock if the Swedish system changes its pricing..
We’ve all had bad days. Famously, even Richard Branson says he has days when he’s bored or feels he has not achieved things. The report is late, the boss is on the phone, the presentation fell flat. But there are not many people in the world who have had to endure the pressure that Tony Hayward, the ex-CEO of BP during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, had to deal with for most of 2010. If you get a call saying you need to meet with President Obama, leader of the free world, to discuss what your company is doing to overcome a massive oil leak – that’s a pretty tough day. If you have to agree to sell 10% of the business assets to help fund a $20 Billion relief fund that will be under massive media scrutiny – that’s huge pressure. And underlying all this, as Hayward was quick to point out, there is an environmental disaster and the tragic loss of 11 lives.
Continue reading “Tony Hayward – Lessons From Deepwater Horizon”