The 10 Commandments of Innovation & Entrepreneurship …

Ken’s Take: Kawasaki has a track record, so worth listening to. Note especially #1 re: mission statements and #5 re: rolling the DICEE

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Knowledge@Wharton, “Ten Commandments from Entrepreneurial ‘Evangelist’ Guy Kawasaki”, June 10, 2009

Guy Kawasaki  became the second software “evangelist” at Apple Computer, where his job from 1983 to 1987 was to convince people to create software for the Macintosh. Kawasaki fondly recalls his colleagues at Apple as visionary, driven and “arguably the greatest collection of egomaniacs in the history of California — though the record has subsequently been broken by Google.”

Here are Kawasaki’s “Ten Commandments” for innovation and entrepreneurship:

1. Make meaning, not money. “Most companies founded on the concept of making money pretty much fail …  focus on making their product or service mean something beyond the sum of its components “.  Nike “turned $2.50 of raw materials into something that stands for efficacy and power and liberation.  Apple has done it with the Mac and the iPhone.

2. Make a mantra, not a mission statement. Bland, generic company mission statements — about “delivering superior-quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership innovation and partnerships” — serve no one  …  keep it short and define yourself by what you want to mean to consumers. FedEx is about “peace of mind.” To get everyone internally and externally on the same page, explain why your organization exists and how it meets customers’ needs and desires.

3. Jump curves. Innovating is harder than just staying a little bit ahead of competitors on the same curve. “If you’re a daisy-wheel printer company, the goal is not to introduce Helvetica in another point size. The goal is to jump to laser printer”.

4. In product design, “roll the DICEE.” That’s an acronym. “D” is for deep, which to Kawasaki means thinking about features that go beyond the norm. One of his favorite “deep” ideas: Fanning Reef sandals, which have a bottle opener built into the sole. “I” is for intelligence, as seen in the design of Panasonic’s BF-104 flashlight, which uses batteries of three different sizes to accommodate the random mix of extra batteries many people have around the house. “C” is for complete — or being not just a product, but including support and service. The first “E” is for elegance: Beauty matters, according to Kawasaki. The second “E” is for emotive. “Great products generate strong emotions: Think Harley Davidson, Macintosh.”

5. Don’t worry, be “crappy.” This doesn’t mean ship a bad product, but “your innovation can have elements of crappiness to it,” Kawasaki said. Twitter has a litany of flaws, but it is changing people’s habits.

6. Polarize people. Try to be all things to all people and you often ship mediocrity. The boxy Toyota Scion xB looks ugly to some people but very cool to its devotees.

7. Let 100 flowers blossom. You never know where the flowers will emerge, so let them grow. Innovations may attract unexpected and unintended customers. Think of Avon Products’ Skin-so-Soft cream, which became popular as a mosquito repellent.  Learn who’s buying your product, ask them why and give them more reasons. “That’s a lot easier than asking people who aren’t interested ‘why not,’ and trying to change their minds.”

8. Churn, baby, churn. Always improve. Listen to customers for ideas. Once the product reaches the hands of customers, it’s time to start listening to their feedback.

9. Niche yourself. Find your place. A product or service does not need to be unique if it delivers extraordinary value to a select group.

10. Follow the 10-20-30 rule when pitching to venture capitalists. That means no more than 10 PowerPoint slides, a limit of 20 minutes for the pitch, and using a 30-point font size in the presentation (to keep it simple). The goal of such pitches isn’t to walk home with a check,  it’s to “not be eliminated” from consideration.

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