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Steve Jobs, innovation & serendipity

Writing about Steve Jobs and his philosophy of life for work today I was reminded about liberation management.

I was really struck by this video (which must have travelled all over the web by now), Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement speech, and how it gels with the other things we know about his life.

I especially found myself wondering how many leaders of disruptive and/or innovative companies subscribe to something along the lines of this statement:

”Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

It reminded me about liberation management as I said (I’ll return to that), but also of how Google's Marissa Mayer once described Google's culture and how it could reinvent the rules online in the early days (quoted in Steven Levy’s excellent book about Life in the GooglePlex which I reviewed for work around Easter).

”You cannot understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey was Montessori kids," she said, and continued: ”It’s really baked into their personalities, to do things their own way, to not respect authority. Do something because  it seems sensible, not because someone told you to”

Page has later said he thinks there some truth in this.

But this all comes down to how important it is to think outside the box to be truly innovative.

Oh, and in Jobs case (whom I wrote more about here for work, in Norwegian) about trusting that serendipity can benefit, and even be crucial to, your career.

Which brings me to liberation management.

It’s just about five years since first I blogged about Tom Peters’ 50 strategies for increasing the odds for getting innovative ideas and creating innovative companies, or at least for attracting a little nuttiness into your life, so I think it stands repeating.

One of my favourite strategies, which writing about Jobs’ philosophy of life reminded me of today, is:

48. Nurture peripheral vision. The interesting “stuff” usually is going on beyond the margins of the professional’s ever-narrowing line of sight

I don’t agree with all of these, especially not on constant reorganisations, but they offer food for thought and here’s some other good ones:

31. Spend 50 percent of your time with “outsiders.” Distributors and vendors will give you more ideas in five minutes than another five-hour committee meeting.

3. Ready. Fire. Aim. (Instead of Ready. Aim. Aim. Aim. ...)

11. Ask dumb questions. “How come computer commands all come from keyboards?” Somebody asked that one first; hence, the mouse

14. Don’t back away from passion. “Dispassionate innovator” is an oxymoron


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