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Expand Your Mind: a Different Look at Innovation

Expand Your Mind: a Different Look at Innovation

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

In 1914 why did that ultimate capitalist Henry Ford raise worker pay to the unheard-of wage of $5 a day? There is many a corporate titan who would do well to consider Ford’s philosophy today—before developing next year’s executive compensation plan or even deciding on this year’s bonuses.

Not only was it a matter of social justice, Ford wrote, but paying high wages was also smart business. When wages are low, uncertainty dogs the marketplace and growth is weak. But when pay is high and steady, Ford asserted, business is more secure because workers earn enough to become good customers. They can afford to buy Model Ts.

These days, innovation is touted as the world’s savior, but is it really the game-changers or their copycats that provide real economic benefit? An excerpt from The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, by Eli Broad posits the latter. And before you argue keep in mind that Apple didn’t invent computers or MP3 music players.

Who does capture the benefits of new ideas, products, and models? Imitators. They get a free ride, avoid dead ends, capitalize on the shortcomings of early offerings or tweak the originals to better fit shifting consumer tastes. And yet, imitators rarely get the recognition they deserve: When was the last time someone received an Imitator of the Year Award?

Based on descriptions of the new Windows 8 operating system I’ve decided that I will switch a few weeks after I die. If all you use is a smartphone or tablet you’ll probably have more tolerance to it, but if you use multiple applications on a real computer not so much. HBS’ Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses it in terms of people’s resistance to change and I agree, but I have a much stronger resistance to things that make me feel incompetent and/or stupid.

Technology is good at that and as one commenter said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat there getting angry trying to figure out how to get something done. I’m not an idiot when it comes to computers, but this OS made me feel like one.” Kanter’s response? “Your software should not make anyone feel like an idiot.”

Common wisdom says “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” but there are times when that attitude is shortsighted. The Smithsonian certainly isn’t broke in any way, shape or form, but it has looked to the future and decided it needs to update its brand if it plans to continue for another 166 years and beyond.

Although the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex, is already a popular and trusted brand, officials there nonetheless decided they needed to raise awareness, particularly among young people, of precisely what they have to offer.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

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