Obstacles to innovation

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Jonar Nader warns against some of the obstacles that get in the way of innovation. These include the burdens of bureaucracy. If innovation is so important, why do so many people fail while attempting to be innovative? Further below is a transcript of the video.

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Here is the transcript:

Jonar Nader: What are the obstacles? How do we innovate in a way that is evolutionary? If we were at a meeting, we will find that peer pressure will not allow it to happen. And that is why at the IBM in the gold old days, it was fantastic that in fact the mainframe division did not like the idea of the PC, laughed at it so much that they kicked them out of the building and said” You’re wasting our time,” and they put them in Boca Ratan. That was the best thing they could have done. And then these guys far way from the peer pressure managed to perfect and perfect and perfect before someone said, “Hey, you know come over here and help us, we have a crisis on our hand.” Peer pressure.

Jonar Nader: Time versus timing is another obstacle that will deflate anything that anyone sees at a meeting. And we need to understand there is big difference between time and timing. Someone might come up with an idea that is absolutely brilliant but just not the right time and yet, we kill it. We don’t know how to shelve it and incubate it and bring it on later time. You go, “No the right time. I’m too busy. I don’t want to know.” It kills it.

Jonar Nader: Timing is another one where someone does something but it just doesn’t work. It’s like if you’re making cake, and we know that we need eggs for cake yet if you just crack the egg once second in the wrong place. Instead putting it with the flour and mixing it, you putting it on the hot pan and that you’re heating in the oven and you end up with fried eggs. You spoil it. And so sometime, our innovation or the suggestion that someone comes up with, they’re so crazy that it looks awful and it spoils and we kill it instead of thinking, “Hang on, maybe if we had applied it in a different way and in a different sequence it might work.” So I’m just saying be careful that, sure, there are times when ideas are fantastic, do we need to shelve them or apply them a little bit differently or have some patience to it?”

Jonar Nader: I will show this for example. Here are some experts who said about a product, “It will largely fail.” Another expert said, “The company should pull the plug on it.” Another expert said, “Nothing more than a temporary novelty.” And the fourth expert said, “I’m more convinced than ever that sales will be unspectacular.” And this expert went on to say, “They should sell off that part of the business absolutely quickly so that if anyone ever dares to launch it and it fails, the company doesn’t have embarrassment on its hands.” What product was that? I’ll give you a clue as to who said it. And these four people, I’m not picking on because in fact there were dozens more. Who were they speaking about and what was the product – which is reported in the paper today, Adrian, that you have one and recently purchased one? Anyone with hands up to answer the question? Yes? The iPhone. Correct. Now, The iPhone sold 4 million in two hundred days. And you just saw what the experts were saying and they were laughing on it; let alone what the competitors were saying. But that was little bit bias, of course. You know, what is the iPhone in terms of technology? It is not really revolution at all. This comes under the category of convergence where we bring things together and just make them better or brighter or smaller or cheaper or faster or something with the word “ER” at the end of it. I call it the ER suffix – cheaper, brighter faster, whatever. Now, the iPhone to me is genius yet really is just a convergence of things. We’ve the calendar for thousands of years, we’ve had the phone a hundreds years or more, we’ve had the camera for a hundred years, so it’s not in itself wow. But what it has done is it has created a sense of value to the user.

Jonar Nader: And I love watching the keynote speech when Steve Jobs launched this product. And I love watching what I call the “oohmeter,” when people in the audience, when they show them the features, when they go, “Oh, yeah.” And the “oohmeter,” the highest point when he had applause and laughter and almost had an ovation was the innovation that he introduced and he said with the iPhone, “Watch this. When you turn it on, it turns on.” And the audience began to applaud because they were so frustrated waiting four minutes for the whole thing to turn on in the good old days. And he just changed the face of it. But, interestingly, don’t assume – although this is genius in micro technology and telecommunications – don’t assume that the consumer always wants the “out there.” In fact, I’m going to riddle you this question: What is the world’s most expensive, most used, most profitable, least advanced product without which the telcos in ’90s and latter ’90s would gone broke? Thanks to this. It saved the telcos. It’s the most expensive, the most profitable, the most used, least advanced product. And the point I’m making is it is the least advanced product, so don’t always assume that people want space-agey stuff. And the answer to that question is SMS. Text messaging and SMS is unbelievably expensive, huge. It’d be like buying a Holden Commodore of $30,000 for $3 million. That’s the mark up price on what you’re buying. And right in this second, you’ve got $90 million of them going. Most used, yet it is really going back to the days of Morse code. But this appeals to my nephew, Jonathan, who puts it in his pocket, he can do it without looking. The teacher doesn’t know what’s going on and he’s texting all his mates. For him, for some reason, that was a great idea. Let’s go back to this idea of obstacles.

Jonar Nader: There are other obstacles. Bureaucracy is a big one. Now, what I am saying here is if we are to embrace innovation, we need to teach our people about OpEx, 1% excellence, we need to make sure that it is within our DNA, that we train people about this process that does not tolerate stupidity, that gives people the power to say, “This seems stupid to me. Therefore, it must seem stupid to the other people.” Now bureaucracy comes into play. “Prove it to me. Show it to me,” et cetera. I work for Acer. Stan Shih is the founder of Acer. Before he founded Acer Computer, he used to sell chickens and fish for a dollar just to live with his mom and his large family.

Jonar Nader: And Stan Shih is a lovely man. And he used to say to us all, all the countrymen, all the product managers, and he’d sit right here and right there and he’d say to them, “I really want you, all your countries to buy from my factory, Acer Factory. It’s really profitable for us to do it this way. But anytime you say to the factory, ‘I would like this Intel chip with that combination,’ and someone at the company uses this one word called ‘no,’ I authorize you to go anywhere you like to do anything you like.” And that’s why in Australia, we’re known as Acer. We are able to say – and back then, we were a small company – we’re able to say we’re the first with the Intel Pentium 90. And we took up full-page ads. The factory couldn’t help us, but we managed to do it. We got the local Intel office on board. We were the world’s first to have the Intel 90 into a certain microchip. And that was – that was Stan saying, “Don’t let the bureaucracy stand in your way.”

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