I had an opportunity to finish reading Seth Godin’s “Free Prize Inside.” This was a great book. Though I have read a lot of his other books, this is one that I didn’t take much interest in until recently when I was asked to work on some innovation project for work. The timing could not have been better. I was recently asked to facilitate a small team to start developing ideas and innovations. We were given little direction and in some ways having little direction created even more problems than you might think. As they say, “necessity is the mother of all invention.”
Godin covers a variety of topics in the book:
- Why we must innovate to survive.
- The difference between hard and soft innovation.
- How to champion an innovation (this is definitely the most important part of the book.
- How to innovate (“finding the edges”).
Here’s the gist of the book. We live in a business environment that requires businesses to innovate. If they don’t, they are quickly gobbled up. The problem is that most people are not willing to challenge the status quo. They’d much rather collect a check and do what they are told. This is “industrial age” type thinking. Our businesses need us to innovate. We are not factory workers anymore.
Innovation need champions. To be one, you must understand that every innovation is marketing (political) and you must approach them with this in mind. Start by figuring out what your customer need/want. Next, develop a plan to sell the innovation and market it. But don’t get so caught up with the idea that you miss planning how to implement the project. This is where a lot of innovations fall apart: Everyone gets all hyped up about the idea and they forget that once approved they will have to actually do it. Find your innovation. Market the idea. Plan for a successful innovation. Go, go, go.
But where to find the great ideas? Godin spend about the last third of the book talking about this. He introduces the notion of “finding the edges.” As he puts it, go to the extremes and push a little further. He spends a ton of time sharing ideas about directions to take your business and product and shares a ton of real world examples.
If your company is interested in innovation, grab this book.