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Woz, Not Woz: The essential tension

“Almost everything I’ve ever done well I’d never done before.”
– Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple computer, talking on BBC Radio 4 this morning

Er, so what?

Successful innovation comes about at the intersection of experience and novelty. The two pull against each other and the leaders of organizations that want to foster innovation have to channel this tension away from conflict and into creativity. It’s the grit that forms the core of the pearl. Thomas Kuhn, the father of scientific thinking about innovation, taught us this. He called it ‘The Essential Tension’.

Leading innovation is one of the least understood and most challenging areas of leadership today. I’m working on a chapter on it for The 60 Second Leader book at the moment and on a ‘how to lead innovation’ module for the 60 Second Leader development system I’m, er, developing.

So, Wozniak’s comment spoke to me as I was making the coffee this morning after dropping Danny at school.

Incidentally, his new autobiography is brilliantly titled – iWoz. (iPod, iWoz, geddit? Better than Woz, Not Woz or whatever that band of David Was’s used to be called.)

Steve’s website is worth a look, too. It’s here

Ha! The link worked. Thanks to Johnnie Moore for showing me how to do that…


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