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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in innovation (24)


Buzz words: wake-up calls for our natural instincts

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Plus ca change

Why do some buzz words embed themselves in our vocabulary while others slide past the window with just a short burst of fame? Some take a long time to leave. Let’s hope “paradigm shift” and “no-brainer” are nearing the end of their useful life. 

Words that get traction align with our natural instincts. Fashionable buzz words are not new ideas. They get traction because they embrace the things we instinctively do best. 

Instincts are there to preserve and propagate the species. One is to form communities because, collectively, we have a better chance at survival and prosperity. No surprises that “collaboration” has got traction.

Ditto our ability to organize. The desire for food has fashioned agriculture. We no longer just kill things; we also grow them. We embrace agriculture because it underwrites our future. We instinctively know that “sustainability” is good.

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Recycle the cycle

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More work for your think tank 

The Great Recession was a great reminder on one great fact: the business cycle is not dead. There have been about ten recessions in my lifetime – one about every five to six years. Get used to them. If you are 35 now, expect another half a dozen before you retire.

There are a few other cycles we should also be aware of. There’s the life cycle of your products. They don’t remain fashionable forever. There’s also the life cycle of your business. It might begin as an exciting start-up. If it doesn’t crash and burn, there is a good chance it will evolve into a mature entity. But if it is like most companies, eventually it will go into decline.

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To innovate, collaborate.

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Using the CASA Principle 

In 2010, Linus Benedict Torvalds was listed as one of the 100 most influential inventors of all time. What did Linus Torvalds do? He posted a message on an online noticeboard in 1991. He said he was building a free operating system and wanted some help.

The result was Linux. It revolutionized the open source software movement. Today it is everywhere. Torvalds was 22 years old at the time.

Linux didn’t grow in a straight line. It grew in fits and starts; in bits and pieces; with thousands of collaborators. The core driver was this: they shared a common interest and a common goal. If you want change, that’s what you need.

Why would you want change?

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Start your own think tank

Working with others

Once a month I have dinner with four friends. We are an odd mix, and there is a 20-year span between the oldest and the youngest in the group. We have one thing in common: we are all interested in business and ideas.

Mostly we just shoot the breeze. But we always finish with one simple process. It has four steps and it doesn’t take long:

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