“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Henry Ford
Actually, there are many more than 63 “innovation nuggets” and they are to be found in the anecdotes within all of the chapters. George Barbee provides a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that he has accumulated over several decades while working with leaders of all manner of organizations. Inventors create something new. Innovators make something better. The most important innovations throughout history (e.g. steam power) have been the result of collaboration that is usually cross-functional and often cross-generational. Barbee is convinced — and I wholly agree — that almost anyone can develop the skills needed to think much more innovatively in one or more of four different categories: strategies, observation, effectiveness, and personal life. He organizes his material within that structure.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for aspiring innovators is to think innovatively about how to think innovatively. That is to say, if you cannot think better, you cannot make something better. Barbee suggests specific strategies for each of the four categories. These are among the dozens of “nuggets” of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Barbee’s coverage.
o Challenge a dominant competitor
o Reconstruct an enterprise
o Focus on heavy users
o Capitalize on satisfaction gaps
o Make an impressive presentation of an idea
o Respect what may seem to be an “absurd” idea
o Innovate through iterations
o Diversify one or more teams
o Create access to all levels and in all areas
o Build and strengthen mutual trust and respect
o Learn from failure
o Set/adjust priorities
o Invest in yourself
o Avoid/overcome inertia, complacency, despair
o Become an innovative rainmaker
o Determine how you wish to be regarded
George Barbee suggests that he wrote this book for “aspiring innovators.” That means that he wrote this book for anyone who wants to make something better. It could be a product or service but it could also be a policy or process, a strategy or tactic, a supply chain or a global alliance, a career or a personal life.
We cannot control everything that happens to us but we can control how we respond to what happens. The value of this book to those who read it will depend ultimately on how willing and able they are to assume full responsibility for how effectively they apply what they have learned. In this context, the comment by Henry Ford is especially relevant. What you do – and don’t do – is entirely up to you.