Front End of Innovation Day Two May 24 9am
Burt used the Wright Brothers as an example. The Wright Brothers spent relatively little money and were not considered aviators since they were bicycle mechanics. Yet from the time of their first flight in 1903 to 1913, hundreds of airplane manufacturers were created and thousands of people had flown an airplane.
Burt went on to note that many scientists and inventors were inspired by some exceptionally interesting invention or occurance in their lives when they were young. Many scientists and inventors in the 30s, 40s and 50s were inspired by airplane flight and the Wright Brothers. Many of the scientists and inventors today were inspired by Apollo and the moon landing.
This poses some interesting questions: what does your organization do to inspire people to create new products and services? In many firms, a new product or service must be carefully planned, designed, signed-off, etc. Yet most breakthroughs never passed through these long and arduous processes. In many cases we are organized to kill the potential for breakthroughs.
Fear is also a great innovator. Burt noted that Sputnik and the early "space race" that the Russians appeared to be winning forced NASA to create new ideas and concepts at an incredible speed. He noted that the first moon shot, Apollo 8, was also the first manned flight on the Saturn Rocket. So, the first time we used a Saturn Rocket for manned flight was also the first time we tried to send a man to the moon. Clearly the desire to be first overrode all the testing and sign-off usually necessary to develop a new technology and make it available for users.
So, how does your firm motivate its innovators? Does it inspire them with examples of what others have done? Or does it point out the challenges from competitors and encourage you to win?