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The Work of Innovation

“…the core skill of an innovator is error recovery not failure avoidance.”

– Pixar University’s Randy Nelson

Innovators simply tweak a relatively ordinary experience to seem new. Think: Howard Shultz, Starbucks CEO, repackaging coffee (a substance humans have been drinking for thousands of years) building a whole new market. Think: Steve Jobs of Apple, building on the transistor radio, and ‘80’s Sony Walkman, to create the iPod, iTouch, iPhone, iYetToBeNamed. How many prototypes, mistakes, mishaps did Shultz and Jobs—who incidentally was fired then rehired by Apple, the company he founded—endure before landing on the right combination to what we know (and can’t live without) today?

What Jobs and Shultz experience shows is that success is not only about inherent aptitude, but about a willingness to learn from experience. Through objective analysis, mistakes can turn into opportunities to improve for the next model. How we fall down and how we pick ourselves back up can mean the difference between history-making innovation, and a good idea that never was.