27 May 19|Innovation

A self-confessed nerd, Steve Wozniak built the Apple 2. With his hands. 

Wozniak’s key note on Day 2 of the Boston Innovation Festival was full of human story. As a young computer nerd all he wanted was to play computer games. And to have fun. He also mentioned he was rejected by Hewlett Packard five times. Hindsight is always a wondeful thing. When Wozniak finally landed at HP, he was enamoured by the culture of family and community.

Culture has always been paramount to the success of any business. Even the large tech companies. Talk to an employee at Apple, Google, Atlassian and Zappos and you find that for the most part they are happy to go to work. When I was at Zappos a year or so ago, my Hawaiian friend Reno was so attached to his colleagues and work, that he didn’t want to leave Zappos to go home. Zappos is in Vegas.

Aside from culture playing a major role in innovation, Wozniak suggests organisations employ a Chief Disruption Officer. The role, he believes, should report straight to the board and not the CEO. The CEO is too worried about the bottom-line figures reported to the board to consider disruption an option. 

Mark Randolph, Co-founder of Netflix and Wozniak both agree ‘luck’ plays a role in ‘success’. What I know for sure is that luck pops up when you are hard at work creating so many opportunities that one of them is guaranteed to come off. That’s lucky!

Make sure you include marketing in your mix. You can have the best product ever innovated in the history of the entirety of mankind but if no one knows about it you’ve wasted your time. And you radically reduce your ability to help make the world a better place. 

Another emerging theme at this year’s Festival is the necessity to frame failure as learning. This dialogue, just like the culture conversation, has been around the block several times. Because only a few are listening. As Lisa Skeet Tatum, Founder and CEO of Landit said, “We should be celebrating wins big and small. Mistakes are evidence that you tried. You need to give equal air time to what worked and what didn’t – and learn”. 

The word ‘happy’ has been repeated several times over the last few days. Ivy Ross, the VP for Design Hardware at Google describes the best workplace in the world as being fluid, moving seamlessly from one iteration to another, and happy.

If you’re challenged at the concept of happiness in corporate speak, please visit Mo Gawdat from Billion People Happy and read his history. It will become abundantly obvious how important happiness is in each moment of our lives. 

At Google, pillars are important. Operating from Human, Optimistic and Daring, Google believes that Humanity + Technology will lead to incredible software that will enrich our lives and affect most of our senses. The aim is to seamlessly harmonise technology into our everyday lives.

And if you ever had thoughts about dusting off your powers of intuition, now’s the time. Ross said, “Intuition is our first instinct. Some scientists are saying that intuition is the highest proof intelligence”.

The world of business is changing. Are you keeping up?

“Big Ideas happen one person at a time.” - Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder Apple Inc 

“Big Ideas happen one person at a time.” - Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder Apple Inc 

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