For Christmas, Megan gave me the book Velocity by Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander. I went into it thinking I could learn a thing or two from it but was blown away by the insights on innovation that I found. Ahmed is the founder of AKQA and Olander is one of the lead innovation guys at Nike's HQ - two companies that typically stand above the rest in terms of innovation. Working in nonprofit PR, I didn't really think I could find any direct application in the book. After all, we rarely (really...never) have the budget to do something like build Nike+ or a bestselling iPhone cooking app. I assumed the book would be interesting but not many "I could do this today" type of insight for me.
I made a poor assumption.
While the book had a lot of knowledge and insights and currently has many earmarked pages as a result of reading, here were a few of the biggest takeaways for me.
No good joke survives a committee of six
Collaboration is great and garnering insights and counsel is crucial to decision making (or avoiding a poor decision). Meetings are a way to do facilitate that collaboration. Traditionally we want to make everyone involved feel included. Decision-making meetings with large groups tend to not actually solve the problem at hand but come up with an idea that appeases the crowd. This approach rarely works. Just look at congress.
Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should
Every time a new platform comes out, everyone wants to be the first to jump on. Maybe a brand has a huge budget to try something crazy. Just because you can do these things doesn't mean it's always a good idea. This idea re-enforces the idea of prioritizing what you do and doing it well.
This is so insane, we have to do it
That almost speaks for itself. You have to be fearless sometimes in marketing. Every once in a while you come up with an idea that is followed up by a "that's so crazy...it might just work." We have to have the courage to follow through on those ideas that come out of left field.
I would absolutely recommend this book to most anyone wanting to explore innovative thinking. It's written as a conversation between the two and not straight copy, which makes it feel more personal to read.
My favorite quote from the book?
Digital is the means, not the end. Technology sometimes obscures this ultimate truth, and makes it easy to forget that at the far side of an app, a Tweet, an anything, there's a person.
Make yourself proud by making people's lives easier, richer and more fun. Don't just give people choice, help them choose.
What are your favorite books on innovation?