The Innovative Spark

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs

This book began with a single spark. An insight, an idea, a realization. It came late one night when reading the end of Walter Isaacson’s book, “Steve Jobs” that there was a principle he enacted while designing the new Pixar building in 1999 that sounded familiar and reminded me of a studio executive who had done the same thing in a similar industry over twenty years before.

While these two industry greats likely had little knowledge of each other, they both used the exact same principle when it came to organizing office space in such a way that the employees would “bump into each other” and begin spontaneous conversations that would lead to collaboration and innovation.

That rival figure was film legend Alan Ladd Jr, the man responsible for greenlighting Star Wars among other top movie blockbusters. In 1976 when Ladd was named president of 20th Century Fox he realized that all of the great talent was spread out over the studio lot in bungalows which housed the individual production companies. Instead of allowing tradition to remain, he moved all of the great creative minds to the third floor of the main building, for the sole purpose of getting them to collaborate, discuss the projects they were working on and end up in a collaboration or inspiration of greater things.

Then came the fireworks. For weeks thereafter I poured back over the book extracting the principles I had seen Jobs utilize while running Apple and Pixar. Parallel examples of similar principles came to mind from the various other companies I had grown up with and become fascinated by such as Netflix, Google, Amazon and many others.

It was incredible to realize that all of these innovative companies did the same exact things on some level, and yet what they did had never been fully explicated in any coherent fashion. They were not simply business principles, but rather principles specific to innovation and intentional and deliberate actions by visionary leaders that helped to create a culture to foster ongoing innovation.

I realized that all of the companies leading the way on innovation weren’t simply on the cutting edge of an innovative industry, in fact, many of them were in the process of revamping industries that had shown little innovation and been stagnant for decades. It was not such a decision as a discovery, that there was a way to start, build and sustain a culture of innovation and that these ingredients and principles could be organized to break down and explain the true core of innovation.

That’s the reason I chose to write this book and I hope that you find it as fascinating to read as I have to write.

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