Finding the Next Steve Jobs

Photo courtesy of istockphoto/TABoomer

Nolan Bushnell founded groundbreaking companies such as Atari and Chuck E. Cheese.  In his first book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Hire, Retain and Nurture Creative Talent, he outlines a plan for helping companies bring more creativity into their organization and make it their competitive advantage.  (Nolan hired Steve Jobs in 1972, two years after founding Atari.)  The book is a must read for all creatives and especially anyone who aspires to manage creatives.

My good friend, best-selling author and speaker Tim Sanders of Net Minds, is his publisher.  Tim graciously agreed to interview Nolan and talk about creativity, leadership, libraries and even publishing.  Here is the conversation between Tim and Nolan:

FTNSJ_Cover_v31_130#1330ED1I know it’s your strong belief that leaders at companies need to foster a creative culture. If you were going to give leaders one piece of advice on how to think differently about a creative culture, what would that piece of advice be?

I would encourage them to say yes to at least one crazy idea a year.

Give me an example of some of the crazy ideas you heard when you were in Atari.

Among the many that were pitched to me, one that stands out was this notion of making pretty pictures when music happened. It seemed ridiculous at the time. The product ultimately turned into Midi.

Midi, of course, is the standard that still exists to this day for connecting music devices to each other and synchronizing them. 

I think we built 20,000 of them, and I think we sold six at full-price. (Laughs). But it did become a force within the industry, for sure.

Let me ask you about leadership because you’ve led several companies. Do you think of leadership in a military way, a coaching way, or an improv comedy way?

Shape Your Company’s Future

 

Are you confident in your company’s future?

How do you rate your business strategy?

Is your team engaged in the creation of your plan?

Are you staying ahead of the competition and creating a sustainable advantage?

 Shape Your Future

“Strategy is about shaping the future.”

That’s the opening line in The Strategy Book by Max Mckeown.  In a logical, straightforward manner, Max walks readers through strategic principles and best practices in a way that educates the novice and the well-practiced strategist alike.  Whether you are a CEO or a new team leader, Max provides helpful tools and checklists to improve your strategic plan.

Max Mckeown is an author of several best-selling, award winning books. He’s also a sought-after speaker on subjects ranging from competitive advantage to strategy to leadership.  He holds an M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Warwick Business School in England.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Max about strategic best practices.

What’s the biggest misconception about creating a strategy?

Strategy isn’t a document. Some people believe that it is. And that’s probably why so many hard-working people roll their eyes when the strategy word is mentioned. Specifically, strategy is not leaders spending a million dollars on thick documents produced by outsiders to which insiders must align.-

You’ve met thousands of managers and leaders in businesses around the world.  When you meet a team, what attributes are present when you find an exceptionally high-performing team?

Strategy is about shaping the future. Perhaps this is why the roll-up-your-sleeves, get-things-done kind of people are often impatient with anything remotely connected to the word strategic. They want results. They tend to ignore the want-to-see-the-bigger-picture kind of people they see as daydreamers.

Break Your Routine

Photo by Phototropy on flickr.

Routine is the enemy of creativity.

Now, somewhere someone is arguing with that idea, saying that routine can enhance creativity. Routines can allow our brain to go on autopilot for the unimportant.

Sure, there is likely truth in that.

But, I think that occasional, even small changes can fire up our brain’s neurons and create new connections. We travel the same paths so often that we often miss the changes occurring on the route.

Before:

  1. My alarm goes off, and I follow the same pattern I have for years.
  2. I drive the same route to work.
  3. I follow a routine when I arrive at work.
  4. Each meeting follows a pre-set agenda and most are held in a conference room.
  5. I rush from task to task with little time left.
  6. The day ends, I head to the gym and start my routine workout.
  7. I rush home in time for dinner and helping with homework.
  8. I drive home and the evening is much the same as the one before.
  9. I watch the news and read a book.

The less routine, the more life. Amos Bronson Alcott

After:

  1. The alarm goes off, and I reverse my pattern. I get up fifteen minutes early, and go outside first. My thoughts are not about the daily “to do” list but instead focused on the nearby tree or the birds.

Which Creative Style Are You?

Photo by lumaxart on flickr.

As readers of this blog know, I’ve long been interested in innovation.  Is there a creative gene?  Are you able to develop it like a skill?  How can company culture be changed to improve the odds in favor of creative teams?

The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University offers programs in creativity.  Chris Grivas and Gerrard Puccio wrote The Innovative Team to make fifty years of research at the institution available outside of the academic institution.  Gerard Puccio is department chair and professor at Buffalo State University, and Chris Grivas is an organizational and leadership development consultant.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Chris about the book and his observations on innovation.

What first started your interest in innovation?

Back in the days when I was in college, I had what can best be described as a “grunt” job.  It was long days with people vying to work the weekends where they would get extra pay.  Most of my colleagues did not have college degrees and few could have hoped for a better job.  They seem resigned to accept this state of life rather than work on improving their options.  Why would people settle for a life like this?  What would inspire them to do something more and find a way to make it work?  I talked with friends and professors about it, and one answer that came up made a lot of sense to me – it’s about how they use their creativity.  If they were confident in their ability to create new alternatives, they may become inspired to innovate their way to a better life.  Now that was a topic that got me excited, so I went on to explore it in graduate school.

You decided to write this book in story form.  Why?

7 Triggers That Can Transform Your Business

Image courtesy of istockphoto/RomanOkopny

Daniel Burrus is a world renowned business strategist, futurist and technology forecaster.  He is the CEO and founder of Burrus Research, a firm that helps spot trends for clients to take advantage of coming market forces.  His latest book Flash Foresight is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

In his book, he outlines seven principles of transformation including:

1. Start with certainty

2. Anticipate

3. Transform

4. Take your biggest problem—and skip it

5. Go opposite

6. Redefine and reinvent

7. Direct your future

You provide seven triggers for users to pursue to create their own flash foresights. What’s the history of the development of these triggers?  Which came first?  Did you end up discarding or merging other potential triggers?