I do therefore I innovate

jobsmacbookair.jpg What made Steve Jobs such a great leader? A new book examines what set Jobs and other innovative business leaders apart as innovators.

The research behind the book shows that five discovery skills distinguish the most innovative entrepreneurs from other executives.


• Questioning allows innovators to break out of the status quo and consider new possibilities.

• Through observing, innovators detect small behavioural details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies—that suggest new ways of doing things.

• In experimenting, they relentlessly try on new experiences and explore the world.

• And through networking with individuals from diverse backgrounds, they gain radically different perspectives.


• The four patterns of action together help innovators associate to cultivate new insights.

The bad news is, if you're trying to be an innovative leader without doing anything, you're in trouble.

The good news is, tomorrow is a new day.

"The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators" (Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen)

Apple's Secret: Focused Simplicity

Here's an engaging extract from Garmine Gallo's book on Steve Jobs and the success of Apple.

Apple believes in "focused simplicity. It is a $30 billion company with less than 30 products. That's never been done before.

This quote grabbed my attention:

In product design and business strategy, subtraction often adds value. Whether we're talking about a product, a performance, a market, or an organization, our addiction to addition results in inconsistency, overload, or waste, and sometimes all three.

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

"The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success" (Carmine Gallo)

Don't solve problems. Copy success.


I think we spend too much time analysing the problem of the decline of Christianity in the west. Too much time deconstructing and conceptualizing. It's not a mind game.

We should be asking: Where do we see the gospel advancing, disciples made and churches multiplied? How can we get more of that? How can we serve what God is already doing?

Here's a story by Fast Company on Jerry Sternin (above) that illustrates the point.

When Jerry Sternin arrived in Vietnam, the welcome was rather chilly. The government had invited his employer, Save the Children, the international organization that helps kids in need, to open an office in the country in 1990 to fight malnutrition. But the foreign minister let Sternin know that not everyone in the government appreciated his presence. The minister told him, "You have six months to make a difference."

Sternin had traveled to the country with his wife and 10-year-old son. None of them spoke the language. "We were like orphans at the airport when we arrived in Vietnam," he said. "We had no idea what we were going to do." Sternin had minimal staff and meager resources.

The conventional wisdom was that malnutrition was the result of an intertwined set of problems: Sanitation was poor. Poverty was nearly universal. Clean water was not readily available. The rural people tended to be ignorant about nutrition.

That analysis was, in Sternin's judgment, TBU -- true but useless. "Millions of kids can't wait for those issues to be addressed," he said. If addressing malnutrition required ending poverty and purifying water and building sanitation systems, then it would never happen.

Especially in six months, with virtually no money to spend.

When it's time to change, we must look for bright spots -- the first signs that things are working. We need to ask ourselves a question that sounds simple but is, in fact, deeply unnatural: What's working and how can we do more of it?

read on . . .

"Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" (Chip Heath, Dan Heath)

The Ignaz effect

ignaz_semmel at work.jpg Next time you go into a hospital and come out alive this is the gentleman you should thank: Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865), a nineteenth century Hungarian doctor.

He discovered there was one cause to the unusually high rates of women dying from “childbed fever” or blood poisoning following childbirth—dirty hands.

At the Vienna hospital in which he worked, one maternity clinic had a 10% fatality rate following childbrith, another was less than 4%. Semmelweis wondered why.

Then a close friend was accidently cut by a student’s scalpel while performing a postmortem examination and died. A postmortem revealed the death was caused by a similar condition to the one that was killing mothers in the maternity ward.

Semmelweis saw the connection and concluded that it was contact with corpses that somehow was fatal to these women and to his friend. This was confirmed when he discovered that the ward with a 10% fatality was attended by medical students who had performed postmortems, while the ward with a 4% mortality was not.

Semmelweis began requiring hospital staff to wash their hands in chlorinated lime between autopsy work and examination of patients. The immediate result was a ten-fold drop in fatalities.

The response of the medical establishment was opposition to Semmelweis’ conclusions and recommendations. Their was no scientific theory to back up Semmelweis’ findings. The germ theory of disease was decades away from discovery.

When his term expired Semmelweis was not reappointed by the hospital. He left Vienna for Budapest humiliated and took up a relatively insignificant, unpaid position at a small hospital. Childbed fever was rampant there, under his supervision the hospital introduced hand washing and the disease was virtually eliminated.

His dramatic successes continued to be ridiculed and rejected by the medical establishment in Vienna and Budapest.

From 1861, he suffered from severe depression and became obsessed with the topic of childbed fever in every conversation. In 1865 his family lured him to a mental institution. When he tried to leave he was severely beaten by guards, put in a straightjacket, and locked in a dark cell. He died two weeks later from extensive internal injuries. The autopsy revealed blood poisoning—the same condition he had attempted to eliminate in maternity wards.

Semmelweis’ methods finally gained acceptance years after his death, when Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease which provided the explanation for Semmelweis’ findings.

I wonder how many people are alive today because of his pioneering work?

The next post will have some reflections on what we can learn from Ignaz Semmelweis.

Inventor of the iPod

kramer-tm.jpg Apple didn't invent the idea of the iPod. A British furniture salesman named Kane Kramer did—thirty years ago. He was 22 at the time.

The point?

Breakthroughs in fashion, technology, science, art, warfare, sport—in every sphere of life—and most especially in the renewal and expansion of the Christian faith. . . . breakthroughs ALWAYS occur on the fringe. NEVER at the centre.

So where do you like to hang out?

Church planting movements and SOAP

Istock 000002687139Xsmall Our home group kicked off for the year last night. We share the leadership around and I was on.

We’re working through Philippians. So I pulled out some SOAP. It’s a simple Bible study method developed by Wayne Cordeiro and picked up by churches all over the place.

SOAP = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. more

We had a great night sharing our insights and our lives around the passage and then praying or each other.

I could have pulled out my Greek New Testament and given a lecture on the passage. OK my Greek is a bit rusty, but they don’t know that.

But last night all we needed was a simple method of encountering God in the scriptures together. SOAP did it for us.

I call SOAP an adaptive method. It’s simple, flexible and reproducible. According to Bob Logan, adaptive methods empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

When a movement needs to get something done, somehow it invents, discovers, reinvents or steals an adaptive method.

How about you?