In 2010, Stanford University graduate Kevin Systrom was working on a multifeatured HTML5 (the markup language that structures content for the web) check-in project on mobile photography, originally called Burbn. He began to build the prototype without any branding elements or design at all, just concentrating on its functionality and usability. After meeting a VC from Baseline Ventures and another from Andreesen Horowitz at a party, Systrom pitched his idea and within two weeks, he had raised a total $500,000 from both. Continue reading
Innovation has always been defined quite differently from invention. It used to be that innovation was “the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device; a novelty.” In a more modern and revised definition, innovation is “the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.” The definition of innovation has now changed to reflect its differentiation from improvement, in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something differently rather than doing the same thing better. Continue reading
One of my colleagues in Silicon Valley shared an experience with a programmer who wanted to work on a project. The programmer was quirky in the extreme; he wouldn’t look the project lead in the eye and spent most of his time staring intently at his own shoes. The interview was awkward, with the programmer talking at length about his video game play, while responses on work topics were monosyllabic.
It is remarkable, with so much knowledge of modern management practices, that only a small number of companies manage to generate significant revenue from new businesses. Surveys of senior executives indicate that only 6 percent are satisfied with their company’s innovation performance.
One of the key differences between being a manager and being a leader is the focus from what you do in business to how you get things done. How do you enable employees who have good ideas to build upon them in a safe environment and make them great, free from the burden of bureaucracy? How do you start from a place of trust and measure results, not just in increments of time, but also by creative pursuits, productivity, and overall outcome?