Innovation, do or die


One of team in Business-Achievers wrote a book on innovation. This is the intro. You can download the book, which includes summaries of all the books mentioned here

A perspective on innovation, execution, organisational structure, technology, purpose and the need to understand exponential

We work with lots of large and small companies on innovation and future-proofing, but I have to immediately admit that future-proofing is a false term because there are no guarantees. The book to read there is Future Babble. No one can predict the future; what you try is to create a mindset and awareness so can you assess what trends are a threat, and which are an opportunity.

Innovation is already there

My job is to create a larger awareness to the importance of innovation and create a platform to make innovation in your company more explicit. I know all the building blocks are already there. In your projects, your people, your clients and your ecosystem.


Is anyone into cooking? Watching Masterchef? If you like execution, you will like Working Clean. This books takes the process and way of thinking of a master chef and translates that into business practices. The title says it: work clean. They also focus on mise en place. Commitment and grounding yourselves in the job. Choosing excellence. Any planning nerd will love it.

In some ways that book is not far off from The Navy Seals Art of War. What can you learn from special forces? A real macho book full of steroids. Same theme: Do or Die. Excellence as a habit. Commit or quit. There are quite a few books now on special forces, and a lot is on mindset.

The one book to read is The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. That is the one everyone should read. It will change your life.

Organisational structure

Employees First, Customer Second is the story of HCLT, a very successful Indian ICT company.  How the CEO completely reorganised the business and inverted the organisational structure to give most of the power to what he calls the “Value Zone”, which is where the company meets their clients. Decentralised decision making with complete transparency. The CEO and the MT are accountable to the Value Zone to ensure ongoing delivery of value to the customers. For example, the CEO gets a 360o performance from all his staff. The CEO can get fired if his/her staff is not happy.

There are a lot of books that suggest that culture is too slow and that the organisational structures we apply are no longer suitable for the weird and wonderful world we live in.

Including The Network Always Wins. Did anyone hear of Zappos? They have become completely self-organising. Peter Hinssen suggests it is the only way forward. He also talks about internal and external clock speed. If your organisation is slower than the outside world, you will perish. What is the clock speed of your business?


If you want a sense of how quick things go, the book to read is The Second Machine Age or The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. These books are about technologies such as AI, robotics, genetics, sensors, material science, nanny, health, energy, biology, quantum physics, etc. I am writing a book about future-proofing and so far if I have counted 120 technology trends. All are going at an exponential rate. Understanding exponential is important.

Anyone familiar with Moore’s law? Double the capacity, half the price. Every year. Best explained as with a chess board. If you double rice per square, how much rice do you have at the end of the chessboard? Ten times the world production.

Every technology at the moment is rocket boosting. AI, biology, data, ICT, genetics, robotics, drones, augmentation, quantum computing, you name it. Getting combined like Lego. Science fiction is becoming science fact. Hence Tomorrowland. Watson reads 800 million pages per second. Every second. Watson is twice as good as a surgeon at making the right diagnosis. If Watson is already better than a top surgeon, what else is it capable of? Is it a threat or an opportunity?. Imagine what your company could do with AI. Audi has self-driving cars with different personalities (nobody knows how/why). The ghost is in the machine. Google has 2 AI computers talking to each other in an encrypted language and a third one trying to break the encryption. So far without success. We now have two AIs talking to each other, and we have no idea what they are talking about. That is a potential Skynet.

ERP will soon include IoT, where everything is made smart. Smart metering is just the start. What will that do to your ERP?


IoT is very scary if you read Future Crimes. IoT devices have on average 25 fundamental security breaches. Everything that can be hacked will be hacked. Your coffee pot, your NEST, your car, etc. Cybersecurity and reputation management will become a huge issue. Also for your clients. Another big opportunity?

Climate change

Climate change is going to transform business models. Another scary book is Climate Change. If we get to 4 degrees, our children will not have children. It is also one of the biggest business opportunities. Your clients will start asking about this.

Pressure on Margin

Chris Anderson wrote about 3d printing called Makers. He also wrote a book called Free. The ultimate consequence of Moore’s law, hyper competition and globalisation is commoditisation and pressure on margin. With “Free” as the ultimate consequence.


Oren Harari (now dead) wrote about 15 years ago in “Break from the Pack”. A classic. Staying out of what he calls commodity hell.  That is what innovation is all about.

Disruption you own model. With urgency. Digital Disruption talks about how platforms can now scale within hours. Big bang disruption

Reinvention talks about that as being the key to survival for the 21st century.

Futurevision explains that the faster you go, the further you need to look ahead. How far ahead are you looking?

The Science of Serendipity talks about the need for mess, the unexpected. The focus on execution potentially takes the serendipity out of the company.

I know you use quarterly rhythms and maybe one quadrant from now on needs to map the unexpected, the weak signals and the weird.

Brilliant Mistakes talks about the need for failure. How much money are you allowed to lose, trying new things? What is your failure fund?

That is why I included What Would Google Do?. It is always useful to learn from the masters. They have the 20% rule. Where 20% of the time, you as an employee can play and develop new things.

On purpose, I did not include lots of books on Innovation. Originals is the one to read. It takes a lot of the BS out of innovation. You need three things. Common passion, Mavericks and volume.



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