10 Commandments of Innovation as Presented by @GuyKawasaki at #execforum

Mar 21, 2014
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

guy kThis week, I attended the Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum in San Diego. The event, which ends today, was attended by over 1,100 executives from the staffing industry. I participated in a panel discussion, met leaders from staffing firms around the globe, and even bumped into my high school accounting teacher who is now president of a staffing company.

The closing keynote on Thursday was delivered by well-known author, entrepreneur, and former Apple Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki. As a person who loves new technology and startups, I was excited to hear him present. He didn’t disappoint.

Below are Guy’s 10 commandments for innovation.

1. Set out to make meaning – not to make money. When a company believes that money is the primary reason to exist, the company fails. The mission should be to change the world. If you change the world, you will make money.

  • Google – democratized information
  • eBay – democratized commerce (founder created it to sell pea dispensers online)
  • Youtube – made video a viable thing to everyone

2. Make a mantra – a short description of why your company should exist. Guy explained that a mantra is much more impactful than a wordy mission statement. He recommended a few mantras for very well known brands:

  • Wendy’s “healthy fast food”
  • Nike “authentic athletic performance
  • Fedex “peace of mind”

3. Jump to the next curve. Great innovation doesn’t follow the same curve, innovators have to jump to the next curve. The example Guy used to illustrate this point is ice. In the early days, ice was harvested from frozen lakes. Then, refrigerators were invented and one could have ice during the summer and in warmer climates. New curves are usually created by people who are new to the industry. In this example, Guy pointed out that ice harvesters did not invent refrigerators. It was a new set of innovators who saw the need, then created the solution.

A few companies who have jumped curves recently include:

4. Roll the DICE.

  • D is for deep functionality
  • I is for intelligence in the product
  • C is for completeness (you won’t need anything more) and
  • E is for elegance

5. Don’t worry, be crappy.  The first version of your product or service won’t be perfect. He pointed out that the first Macintosh didn’t even have software.

6. Let 100 flowers blossom. At the start of great innovation, take your best shot. Then, people you didn’t anticipate will use your product in unanticipated ways. Allow them to show you new ways the product can be used and learn from them.

7. Polarize people. Some people will hate what you do, some will love what you do. If people don’t care what you do, that’s a problem. Guy used Tivo as an example, pointing out that ad agencies and brands hate Tivo because people no longer have to watch commercials. Consumers love the concept for the same reason.

8. Churn baby, churn. The hardest thing for an innovator to do is to avoid the negative feedback they will inevitably receive. People will say it can’t be done and this must be ignored during the early stages of development. However, once the first product is shipped, people have to open their ears and listen (It took Apple two years to listen to feedback).

9. Niche thyself. Be unique and add value at the same time. 

10. Perfect your pitch

  • Customize your intro for every audience.
  • Follow the 10/20/30 rule of presentations: 10 slides in your presentation – 10 main thoughts. You should be able to deliver these slides in 20 minutes.  Always use at least 30 point font.

Bonus tip: 11. Don’t let the bozos grind you down. People will tell you that your new offering will not succeed. When you encounter a bozo, think of these examples:

  • In 1943, Tom Watson, chairman of IBM, predicted there was a world market demand of five computers. Obviously this was a very low prediction.
  • A Western Union internal memo in 1876 stated that telephones had too many deficiencies to be adopted.
  • In 1977, Ken Olsen, the Co-Founder of  Digital Equipment Corporation, stated that there was no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.

Guy Kawasaki definitely delivered on the hype he gets in the press. He was funny, articulate, humble, and inspirational.

Congratulations to the Staffing Industry Analyst team for hosting such a successful event!

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!