Chief Evangelist at Canva Guy Kawasaki took to the stage day one at the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference (WIE ILC) in San Jose, California. Higlighting just one of his many accomplishements, Kawasaki was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the 1984 Macintosh computer line.
His speech during the IEEE WIE ILC opening ceremony outlined ten essential steps for the art of innovation, providing an insightful framework for all engineers in attendance.
1. Make Meaning
Instead of the mantra Make Money, Kawasaki started the list with Make Meaning. It’s key to begin with a solid foundation that has purpose, with even the potential to change the world. If the meaning is there, money will follow.
2. Jump The Next Curve
Innovators need to be on top of what’s next. Rather than focusing on what you currently market, create, and develop, think about what will benefit current and future customers.
Kawasaki described an example of the evolution of maps. Map 1.0 was on plain paper, Map 2.0 transitioned to digital media, and Map 3.0 is the mobile app Waze. Technology evolves, so jump the next curve so you’re not left behind.
3. Don’t Worry, Be Crappy
Kawasaki warns about waiting for perfection, however, he doesn’t advise to ship out bad products. Rather, ship revolutionary designs that may have a few “crappy” elements.
4. Focus on Merit
Recounting his time at Apple, Kawasaki notes that Steve Jobs never cared about a person’s background, but focused on their talents and abilities. Such superfluousness things stifle the road toward innovation.
5. Polarize People
“Great products polarize people,” Kawasaki explains. He warns to not intentionally irritate consumers, but encourages to quiet the fears surrounding polarization, as it could lead to greatness.
6. Ignore Naysayers
One of the presentation slides quoted an 1876 Western Union internal memo, “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
Ken Olsen, Founder of Digital Equipment Corp, was used as another example in a statement from 1977, “There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Needless to say, innovators ignored the negative comments of these two naysayers and pushed forward.
7. Change Your Mind
If an idea isn’t working, adapt and change. Kawsasaki notes how this represents strength and wisdom in designers. Don’t be afraid to switch gears.
8. Niche Thyself
Combining two key elements will lead to success: make your products unique, and ensure they have value.
9. Let 100 Flowers Blossom
Try your best with positioning and branding, but when you start to ship your product, customers will decide the reality. Let 100 flowers blossom and embrace the change in direction.
10. Churn, Baby, Churn
“Innovation is not an event, it’s a process,” says Kawasaki. Innovators need to keep going. It is essential to ignore the naysayers as previously mentioned, but once the product ships it’s important to listen to the customer chatter and churn the product. Keep changing, improving, and evolving the design.
The presentation ended with a few words of wisdom, “Some things need to be believed to be seen.” Innovate, create, and follow your designs to fruition.