The innovation race will be won by a team of all talents
At the Beijing Olympics, the 4 x 100m relay was won by the Russian team in 42 seconds – apologies for not being much interested in the tenths and hundredths – while the 400m was won by Christine Ohuruogu in a time of 49 seconds. At the risk of stating the obvious, the same distance is covered a lot faster by a relay team than by a single individual, however talented.
Bearing in mind that innovation is not simply about generating new ideas but observing users, developing concepts, prototyping, up-scaling, marketing and creating value, the innovation race will be run faster by a team than by a single individual. And since each stage is of a different nature, each will be best run by individuals with the most appropriate skills for that stage. At the end of the day, the innovation race will be won, not by the lone genius, but by a team of all talents.
If we accept the above proposition as true, then its contraposition is equally true: whatever your talent, you can take part in the innovation endeavour. If your talent is, say, logistics, you can take part in the innovation endeavour. Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook has been for years the operational driving force behind the success of Apple. He would be the first to admit that he is no creative genius; but nobody could say that his talent was not instrumental in Apple’s resounding success.
All that is required to take part in the innovation endeavour is to know your talent, team-up with people who bring complementary skills, and go for it.