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Architecting the invisible: creating a culture of innovation | Greg Horowitt | TEDxSanDiego

August 25, 2019


Translator: Mary Kay
Reviewer: Denise RQ Growing up, I was the kind of child
who was every teacher’s nightmare. I was rambunctious. I couldn’t stay focused for very long, I was acting out all the time
and disrupting class. As a child, we call that difficult. As an adult, we call that an entrepreneur. (Laughter) Little did I know that my path would take me
in this very circuitous route, as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and now as a person
who studies innovation, primarily innovation ecosystems. It led me to a question
that I wanted to answer. I’ve been reading all
these books about innovation. You cannot go on Amazon these days and look at a business book
that doesn’t have innovation either as its primary theme
or as a key topic within it. If we’ve been studying innovation
for as long as we have, if we’ve been writing
about it and researching it, why does it still seem to be so elusive? Why does innovation seem to be so hard? In addition, if we understood
what innovation really was, how do we make more of it happen? Once we do understand innovation, why is it that we fail to implement
the knowledge that we have? In essence, why is there a gap between knowing what
we should do and actually doing it? It was a book that I had read that a colleague of mine gave me
called “The knowing-doing gap” by Pfeffer and Sutton
where it all became clear. Knowing what to do often exists up here. Doing exists in your fingertips.
But it’s not a linear path. In fact, it’s a circuit that goes
through our emotional centers. As human beings, we are emotional beings. We’re connected to each other
through our empathy and our humanity. It’s this very same thing that can actually get in the way
of us living our truest potential. We created this model
to describe how businesses behave both in more traditional
linear production businesses but also in the knowledge
and creative businesses. I want to share a little
of that with you today. In our research, we described the linear production systems
of the 19th and 20th centuries, what we’ve seen in agrarian
and industrial economies as plantations. They’re built on models of scarcity. We have only so much
resources to work with, so much good land,
water, soil, and people. We have to allocate these resources
very, very efficiently because any waste of these diminishes
our productivity, efficiency, and outcome. These models are
very pristine and perfect. All of our knowledge goes to the engineering
of the process we work with. They’re wonderful in that way. We know exactly what we’re supposed to do, but they don’t allow
for any unplanned outcomes. If a weed grows up
in your plantation, you pull it out because it competes for
the very resources we are looking for. We see this played out over and over again from the production lines
of the automobile industry to how we work with
the military industrial complex. Even the way we make chips today
is exactly the same process. It wastes the fewest number of resources,
it produces the highest output. We are noticing another complementary
but also competing model that was working against that. In the first model, the mantra is,
“Thou shalt not make mistakes.” In this new model, we have
something very different going on. We call this model
the knowledge creation model. We call these rainforests. These rainforests are built on mindsets
of abundance rather than scarcity. If you and I get together
for coffee and we share an idea, we each now have two ideas. If we get a whole group of us
to share ideas, we have lots of ideas. In fact, it’s the one time that the more
we engage and come together, the capacity of what
we’re doing goes to infinity. It’s the exact opposite of what
happened in the plantation model where, as we consumed resources,
we take it down to zero, and it creates the mindset of scarcity. Matt Ridley, in his book
“The rational optimist,” said: “Innovation is
all about ideas having sex.” That was a revelation for me. As soon as I heard that,
I knew exactly what my job was. I am here to promote promiscuity of ideas. (Laughter) I am here to build
the brothels of innovation, and I want you to join me. We call these brothels rainforests. When you look at the rainforest
as opposed to the plantation, you’re not really sure what
you’re supposed to be looking at. It’s lush, dense, green, and beautiful. But, believe it or not, the most important thing in the rainforest
are the weeds you are standing on. These are the Googles and the Facebooks. These are the things that,
when they first present themselves, look like something
that’s not supposed to be there. Not only do the businesses look
a little odd, the people look even odder. (Laughter) You can see a young Bill Gates
and a young Paul Allen in that picture. If this young man came up to you, would you recognize him
as a future leader? What do leaders look like
in this new economy model? Therein lies what we call
the paradox of innovation. Innovation looks like the social
equivalent of a genetic mistake. It’s not supposed to be there. It threatens the very paradigm
to which it’s supposed to help. In fact, innovation is only recognized
and validated once it becomes imitation. How are we trying
to make innovation happen when the only way we judge it
is in the rear-view mirror? Over the years, experts
have been trying to pick innovation. Yet, experts always get it wrong. Whether it was the invention
of the telephone, the airplane or even the use of personal computers, the best experts of the time
don’t recognize it because current wisdom does not allow
for these new paradigm shifts. What it really takes to solve
the greatest problems of the world is your imagination. Very often, the knowledge
we need to solve the problems and to create the new
innovative tools doesn’t yet exist. That’s why innovation requires so much experimentation, iteration
and, most importantly, evolution. The mantra in the first model was:
“Thou shalt not make mistakes.” I reward you for not making mistakes. In this new model,
what I’m going to reward you for is learning how to solve problems, coming together and using your knowledge
to solve the greatest problems. As Edison said, he’s never failed. He’s just found 10,000 ways
not to do something. It’s in that knowledge. Believe me, I relate to that a lot. All innovation is human-centric. It’s about human beings acting out
and doing something out of their will. That’s also where it gets in our way. Humans are the only species
with the ability for prospective thought, to think about the future, to model it,
and change our behavior in the moment. Intellectually, there is probably
no reason to buy a lottery ticket. But in the moment we buy
that lottery ticket, something happens. We actually feel good. The reason we feel good is because our mind creates a future
memory of what we’re doing. We think about the car we’re going to buy,
the job we’re going to be able to quit, and the home we’re going
to be able to update. In that moment, we feel very good. It’s that same emotion that also
keeps us from doing things. Very often, whether we’re governments,
corporations, or communities, we’re trying to figure out what kind
of outcomes we’re trying to generate. We want more jobs. We want prosperity.
We want greater revenue in our businesses. What is it that we have to do? We talk about building incubators,
tech parks, and venture funds. That’s where we tend to focus.
But we find that isn’t very sustainable. In fact, here in San Diego, people
have been coming from all over the world to study models like Silicon Valley
in San Diego, in Boston and in Israel and trying to take those lessons back. When they go to apply them,
they tend not to work, and they can’t figure out why. If it worked in one place,
why doesn’t it work in the other? That is because, what we find is
that actions are a result of behaviors, which are a result
of attitudes and motivation. Ultimately, they are
a result of our beliefs. I’ve observed that, that when we go to places like
the Silicon Valley, Boston, and Israel, what we find is that there are
different belief systems in place, that people wake up every morning
believing and acting upon. Trust me, you will act very consistently
to your beliefs if they’re strong enough. This is really where we should focus. One of the case studies we looked at
was the religion of Apple. How did Steve Jobs get everyone
in the world to act like his employee without ever having
to put them on the payroll? All of us approach the ownership
of our Apple products with such a religious zeal
that it’s envious of every company. People like their Microsoft products.
People love their Motorola phones. We use them. In some ways, they are
superior pieces of technology. But Steve Jobs found a way
of embedding love and emotion into each of the products. Because of that, people reward them with their loyalty
and their continued patronage. What does it really take
to create these belief systems? We first have to understand
what drives our belief systems. So often, when we work
with regions and we ask them: “What do you think is
the greatest de-motivator or the reason that you don’t succeed?” They said, “We don’t take risks.
We don’t like failure. We don’t like things
that are ambiguous and unclear.” What we tell them is,
“None of us really do.” Entrepreneurs are not
inherently risk seeking. They’re opportunity seeking. They just think they have better ways
of managing the risks that they work with. Fear is not the most important emotion. It is hope. It’s when you buy that lottery ticket,
believing you can change the world – that’s when you change – in that moment, you can create
a different future for yourself. What we find is that thinking
plus feeling is believing. It’s not enough to just
have a different mindset. You must have
a different heart-set as well. It’s the combination of those two
that will drive innovation. In conclusion, we don’t want you
to think like an economist. We want you to think like a psychologist. Because if you think like a psychologist, you will get people motivated
to believe in what they do. As Maya Angelou said: “Long after people
will remember what you said or did, they’re going to remember
how you made them feel.” By the way, I hate this expression:
“Thinking outside the box.” It’s not about thinking outside the box. It’s realizing that the box
doesn’t even exist in the first place. That’s why entrepreneurs
are able to succeed. The rules of these rainforests
that we create around the world are to break rules and dreams. Entrepreneurs are
a bit naughty. I’m still naughty. I still kind of bend
the rules a little bit. My favorite one is [number] five,
to seek fairness, not advantage. We are all partners in this. We don’t know exactly
how the future is going to turn out, but we’re going on the journey together. In conclusion, without order,
nothing can exist. But without chaos, nothing can evolve. My recommendation to everyone is to go out there
and create a little chaos. Thank you. (Applause)

6 Comments

  • Reply Max January 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Favorite quote of this talk: 'Without chaos, nothing can evolve.'

    Very interesting talk. I completely agree with him.
    Innovation is complex, but I think he explained well what it is and how it can be achieved.

  • Reply Mary Beth McCabe May 12, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Actions are a result of our beliefs and belief systems. Ex. Apple products says Greg. Loyalty is rewarded for showing love to the products.

  • Reply bes1batch1976 August 1, 2017 at 1:34 am

    Order creates existence, chaos create Evolution

  • Reply Paolo Tancon January 8, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Innovators are creators. Their entire being becomes engaged in the expression of a new understanding, expansion of consciousness, relationship, discovery, insight, vision, and truth.

  • Reply Casey Sederstrom January 29, 2018 at 1:10 am

    I love this, and I don't feeling like doing it for $13.41 and hour. (Preschool teacher)

  • Reply Jay Tapia R. June 22, 2018 at 8:21 am

    This guy is a genius!

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