Innovation is Not Efficient: Simon Sinek3 min read

Simon Sinek

Full text of Simon Sinek ‘s talk: Innovation is Not Efficient

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Simon Sinek – Author and Inspirational Speaker

I hear this all the time, especially from CFOs, it makes me laugh every time: “CFO, what’s your priority: efficiency and innovation.” Good luck with that.

Innovation is not efficient. Innovation is trial and error. Innovation is experimentation. Innovation is testing. Innovation is doing something that fails and fails and fails and sticking with it because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re not just going to walk away from this, even though it failed the first two or three times.

Seinfeld was a disaster with terribly low ratings when it first came out and thank goodness they weren’t making the decisions based on the numbers, they were making the decision based on what they felt was good television. And when we believe in something desperately, then the worst thing we can do is cut people off who have intense passion for something. 

If somebody has unbelievable passion for something that they want; that they think can change, help the firm or change the industry; change the profession. Why would we stand in their way? Why do we say, I want you to do this, then they’re going to go into whatever we’re telling them to do like this with malaise, when they have passionate for something and they fall, they’ll fix it because they have passion for it.

Never had ever restrained someone with passion. And by the way, you don’t have to be innovative. There’s nothing wrong with not being innovative, right? There’s nothing wrong with taking somebody else’s innovation and implementing it in your firm in a robust way. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no one that says you have to be innovative.

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We have a twisted definition of what innovation means anyway. Innovation doesn’t mean putting a flat screen on something or coming up with an app. That’s not innovation. Innovation is the application of technology or engineering or something to solve a problem. So I’ll give you a perfect example of the lack of innovation:

So remember when in conference rooms, if you had a screen that used to have a little string, and if you wanted the screen, you pulled on the string and if you wanted the screen to go away, you went like that. And it went, remember those days, right? It never broke ever. Now we have a button on the side of the wall and the screen is stuck down because it’s broken and we just don’t want to spend the money to fix it. Okay.

We added a motor to something. For what reason, what problem are we solving right now? If it’s an aesthetic thing inside a home, I’m all for it. But we attempted to solve a problem that didn’t exist. There was a solution for a problem that didn’t exist. That’s not innovation. That’s stupid. That’s a waste of money with an increased likelihood that it’s just going to break.

Go to bed, bath and beyond and go to the toaster aisle. Turns out not all toasters are created equal and go to the button. You know, they have them all displayed on the shelf and go to the button and lift it. They don’t all go up. In fact, I’ve seen like a $400 toaster that didn’t, and I’d like a $30 toaster that did.

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That’s innovation that somebody figured out an easy way for me to get my toast out of the toaster is to actually make the mechanism, lift the toast manually versus sticking a knife in the toaster. That is genius because they found a way to solve a real problem.

So look for real problems that people in, who are on the receiving end of your profession, or actually people in your profession are suffering and solve their problems for them. Some of which may include technology and apps and flat screens. But some of them may not. Some of them, like you talked about leadership training, doesn’t mean we have to build a develop app. That means we need to buy a book and have a book club, right?

So that to me is innovative, which is the clever way. That’s funny, the clever way of solving problems, which is not always efficient because you sometimes have to test and test and test and test. Book club is a great example. If you do book club in your firm and you have a reasonably big firm and you make it voluntary, the first people who come are going to be four people. So you say, “Well, it’s a failure book club didn’t work.” No, just stick with it. “Five people”, Just stick with it. And eventually you can only have 80 people because they will have FOMO. 

Simon Sinek

Innovation is Not Efficient by Simon Sinek: