Book Review: The Innovator’s DNA

the-innovators-dnaThe research piece behind this book might be the next thing I read, as I’m intrigued by the academic rigor applied.

The reveal and living examples of the five skills – questioning, networking, experimenting, observing and associating – are tangible and approachable given their articulation through well-known and highly visible entrepreneurs running innovative companies. There’s much to be gleaned by looking at the way these people behave and, even through simple emulation, enhancing one’s own skills.

My only real disappointment with the book is its limited approach to practical, daily application for those not yet at the top of the tree. It’s rather a different kettle of fish for the innovation-minded, but stuck in bureaucracy, worker who wants to make things better, is still motivated, and hasn’t been crushed by the machine.

How does that person actively innovate? And, in some cases, get away with it?

A section in this book (or an accompanying volume) focussing on daily, in-work, innovation would be useful.

Review – Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger L. Martin

Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger L. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A useful explanation of what makes for design thinking.

As a design thinker, having some of Martin’s articulate words in your head will no doubt be of use when you need to explain what it is you do and how you do it to the more reliability-oriented, deductive thinkers you’ll encounter almost every day.

Martin goes to great effort to distinguish the validity-centric design thinker’s abductive, “what if” mindset as a key tool, balanced against the reliability-centric mindset of most of the world, focused on ensuring repeatability and low levels of variation. So too, he makes a powerful point that for many design thinkers, the tools we trade in – understanding and empathy, language, context – are something that in working with clients or in the businesses that employ us, we allow to grate rather than seeing that in itself as a design thinking challenge. Clever!

Not a book of practical, try this, tools for design thinkers, Martin’s book, rather, seeks to explain the nature of thinking and working this way for those curious as to what design thinking IS.

For the design thinker, there will be many “Yes!” moments, but an equal number of “Why is he explaining this?” ones. Remember, this book is not for you, the design thinker, but a tool to help you explain why and how you do what you do. Get your boss to read it.


This is where you need to be very utilitarian, testing every one of your commitments for a straight line connection to your objectives and desired results. Don’t get caught up in the fuzzy math of paybacks-in-the-future. In your mind, the future is about 120 days, and not much further.

Efficiency. Effectiveness. Satisfaction. No wastage.


In everything we do we need to think differently, to do things the way nobody expects us to, to never accept that the way everyone else does something is the right way, and to do everything with the ultimate aim of producing a social good in some form.

Words to live by

Fuck the low-hanging fruit. Aim for the top. Forget quick wins; go straight for the long-term. Screw office politics & mow down the ignorant

A better kind of business – Patagonia

Here’s how it works. Flexible Purpose Corporations can write one or more special missions into their articles of incorporation. They can be as ambitious as fighting climate change or as modest as maintaining a park near the company’s office. The law instructs directors to consider the special aims in their decision-making, even when it could mean lower returns for investors. To make the appeal as broad as possible, the law’s authors avoided setting a minimum standard for what a “special purpose” could be.

From an article on the outdoor clothing/adventure company Patagonia and its adoption of a new incorporation model under California law.

I strongly believe we need similar laws in Australia.