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2015 End of Year Quotes to Noodle

Hard to believe, but 2015 is almost over

Champagne splash. Bottle and cork, with christmas decoration

At the end of each year, I like to post my favorite quotes I come across that either inspired me, caused me to ponder, and/or have a laugh over.

Some of these quotes are related to innovation, discover and self-realization. While others are plain old fun and entertaining.


“I think of discoveries as sort of apples falling on your head, but those apples only set off good ideas if someone has prepared your head.”

– Angus Deaton, Economist

Insights just don’t happen, they are the products of preparation. One needs to be actively looking for insights and able to connect the dots that lead to true innovations. Here’s a related quote:

“In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”

Louis Pasteur, the French microbiologist.

This is how Pasteur described his ability to invent and innovate across a complex set of problems. Are you and your organization prepared to innovate?

“Imagination: the power we all have to bring to mind, things that are not present.”

– Sir Kenneth Robinson

We are all gifted with the power of imagination. But sometimes our imaginations are discouraged and designed out of our work flow. “Just do your work as scripted and don’t mess with it.”  This is a sure tell-tale that innovation isn’t happening in your organization. How good are you and your organization at using your imaginative powers to create new possibilities?

“In the information era, change is the best equilibrium. No single structure is perfect and can solve all problems.”

– Jack Ma

Change is the only true constant we can rely on in the future. There will be no slowing down, change and chaos are the new realities. Designing your innovation offense (system) for agility and speed is a requirement.

“New product development isn’t Plan-Do, but Envision-Explore. Where there is no uncertainty, no risk, there is no opportunity.”

– Jim Highsmith – Agile Project Management

True innovation is risky business. But there are ways to manage risk. The core mantra is to learn while doing by testing early, often and cheaply throughout the innovation and development cycle.

“Every morning you’ve got to wake up with a healthy fear that the world is changing, and a conviction that, to win, you have to change faster and be more agile than anyone else.”

– Indra Nooyi – PepsiCo’s CEO

Healthy fear is good. It keeps you on your toes to compete at the top of you innovation game.

“Being a good leader isn’t enough if the process by which you’re attempting to create is flawed.”

– Jeff Campbell –Brinker Executive in Residence at San Diego State University – School of Hospitality & Tourism

As great of a leader you might be, if your innovation processes and core assumptions are flawed, no act of leadership will save you. As a leader, you need to see the big picture, and have the courage to change “the way things are done” when evidence points to a flawed process.

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in success, than to take the lead in the introduction of new order of things.”

– Machiavelli

The diffusion of innovation (i.e. crossing the chasm) is hardly a new phenomenon. I can imagine when the first caveman discovered cooking with fire was a good thing. But his fellow cavemen were reluctant to adopt fire because fire was hard to start, and had the nasty habit of smoking up the cave!

“Failure is reality’s way of showing what you don’t yet know, but need to learn.”

– John Danner and Mark Coopersmith – WSJ “How not to flunk at failure” Oct. 25, 2015

Yes, failure is good if it is put in the right context and managed properly. When dealing with the unknown, it’s guaranteed failure will occur. So embrace failure as part of the learning and discover process.

“Uncertainty is especially the enemy of passion”

– Holman W. Jenkins – WSJ “The Next Climate Scandal” Nov 14, 2015

Uncertainty causes fear and paralyzes. Left unchecked, it kills our passion. Dealing with uncertainty is a skill and attitude we must master if we want to play the game of innovation to win. Adopt an innovation and discovery process to lean into your fears and move forward to success.

“If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule – A great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.”

– John Steinbeck

Steinbeck was talking about good story telling. We can also apply his insights to creating great products. Great products are all about helping people get important jobs done better. If people don’t have an important job that needs to get done, then the product will fail in the market.

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”

-Yogi Berra

How could I not include a quote from the late great Yogi Berra, may he rest in peace. I am sure Yogi was talking about baseball, but this quote is applicable to innovation and new product development.

Don’t make stupid (wrong) mistakes! Mistakes are not the same as failures. Mistakes are the same old failures made over and over again. For goodness sakes – learn from failures and don’t repeat stupid mistakes!

Wishing you a happy holiday season and prosperous new year!


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