RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Chuck Swoboda, longtime chair and CEO of Cree, is making headlines with his new book “The Innovator’s Spirit.” In his own words he describes what he believes are the five essential points that you make in this book – and why is each so important:
Innovation is about people, not process
If you search Amazon for books about innovation, there are more than 50,000 titles available. But most of them are about how to manage the process of innovation, yet you can’t follow a process to do something that’s never been done before. Innovation starts with your mindset and the belief that anything is possible.
You can’t manage innovation; it requires leadership
Peter Drucker, the iconic father of modern management, characterized the difference between management and leadership as: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” The challenge for most of us is that we’ve been trained our entire lives to be managers. The book highlights how you can break free from traditional management thinking and start leading.
Failure drives learning and learning drives innovation
Innovation is like investing; the potential return is correlated to the amount of risk that you’re willing to take. And if you’re not failing along the way, you are not taking enough risk. For most of us, we try to avoid failure. The book demonstrates how you have to embrace failure if you want to innovate.
There is no box
Most people start their pursuit of innovation by trying to think outside the box, but that approach rarely works. The moment that you accept there is a box, you also accept boundary conditions that limit what’s possible. If you want to innovate, you need to understand that boundary conditions are choice. You have to set the box on fire.
Best practice isn’t good enough
Most of us are taught to embrace best practice in everything we do. And while that is often good advice in the right context, it doesn’t lead to something better and it certainly doesn’t lead to innovation. You have to be passionate about searching for a better way and realize that everything you do today can be done better tomorrow.