Peter Sperry

1. We would recognize the critical role of foundational knowledge to innovators and provide rigerous, tested, education in the basics. Pablo Picasso, the greatest art innovator of his generation, had nothing but contempt for artists who jumped into cubism or post modernism without first learning to draw. His admonition was to “master the rules of painting so you will know how to break them artistically”. Look at the history of great innovators in any field and the overwhelming majority of them were recogonized masters of the existing craft. They needed such credability in order to secure the resources to go beyond.

2. Maintain copious, detailed records of past efforts regardless of success or failure. Edison explained that he never failed in the search for the most efficient filliment for light bulbs. He simply identified 10,000 substances which didn’t work. GE innovators 100 years later have a record of which substences to ignore as they seek to improve lighting. Innovation should not be an excuse for repeating past mistakes.

3. Conduct through after action reviews of all efforts to record why they succeeded or failed. Reward success. Recognize and praise noble efforts which fail for unforeseable reasons beyond control of the innovators. Identify issues unsuccessful innovators should have been able to anticipate or which they simply failed to control.

4. Be very public in providing innovators behind noble failures an opportunity to try again or take on a different project. Be equally public in denying these opportunities to sloppy innovators who failed to plan or control their projects.

5. Measure and reward innovation based on whether positive results are derived from purposful action or luck and the dgree to which they can be replicated by those who follow.