News Leadership 3.0

July 15, 2008

‘Z’ Holly: Myths of innovation

@ Knight Leadership Conference,
Innovation expert explores realities,
hype of implementing good ideas

Krisztine “Z” Holly is Vice Provost for Innovation and Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation. Her job is to stimulate innovation at UCS and in the larger community. Her background is in startups. Here’s her bio.

Her laugh line to newspaper editors: “My goal is to help you inject some innovation into the work you do.Some of you may say, ‘innovation’, that’s what got us into the mess we’re in now.”

Here’s her definition of innovation: “The process of translating new ideas into tangible societal impact.”

I like this because it says “impact” instead of “product,” which should be great news for journalism.

And for those who would like to keep putting out the newspaper of their youth: Innovation is inevitable. “If you don’t’ do it, somebody else will”

“Z’’ introduced “Seven Myths of Innovation.” Here’s the list:

Myth 1 - Always keep your eye on the ball.

“It’s really hard to notice other things if you keep your eye on the ball. You need to focus to get your work done. But you might miss things that come out of left field. It’s really hard to balance that.”

Myth 2 - Failure is not an option.
“We can be paralyzed by fear as well. Fear of failure is probably the biggest impediment to innovation.”

Message to newsrooms: “The culture needs to embrace failure and trying.”

Myth 3 - Everyone loves an innovator.
“They’re rebels, they’re difficult to deal with sometimes. They’re not always fun to have around.”
Message to newspaper editors: “It’s important that you as a leader embrace the irritant.”

The irritant may push against the “typical traps:”
“That will canabilize our businessi
“That’s not the way we do it around here.
“We tried that and it didn’t work
“That will threaten our jobs.

Myth 4 - “Innovators are problem solvers”
Actually, innovators ask “why?” In the music business, people might ask “How do we sell more CDs?” The innovator might ask, “how do we provide the best music listening experience?” (and Napster did it.).

Myth 5 -  Knowledge is Power.
Organizations may know too much. Funny example: A remote with 52 buttons on it. The designer knew how to use every one and thought you might want too as well. Similarly, sometimes the customer knows too much - think photographers who said the would never want a digital camera and fast forward.

Myth 6 - Innovation can be predicted.
Measurement and management may spell death of innovation. “When you try to manage it, you actually kill it.”.

Myth 7 - First place always wins.
“It’s not the person who comes up with the idea first. It’s the one who delivers the product, delivers the experience that the market want it. Innovation build on the successes and failures of the innovators before.”
Example: iTunes didn’t invent mp3

What’s most important for newsroom leaders to try?
“I think it is really the trial, the pilot the experimentation, the iteration, the ability to fail. I think it’s really important..”

“You can’t really swing for the fences if you’re afraid of striking out.”

Update: Ryan Sholin riffs on 7 Myths here.



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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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