What is Innovation?

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First published on, this video became amazingly popular with thousands of views around the world. Animated by the talented Rafa Galeano, I was the creative director, wrote the script and did the narration.

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Innovation. It’s not a four-letter word.

Crap is a four-letter word.

So is mediocrity.

As is the word average.

Four-letter words are qualitative, not quantitative (that’s what allows me the above artistic license).

(The bulk of this article originally appeared on Fast Company 4 years ago and is as relevant today as it was then.)

Listen to the words of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Seth Godin and you’ll discover what separates true innovators from everyone else.

It all comes down to dots.

In his famous commencement speech, Steve Jobs said:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Sir Richard Branson has a mantra that runs through the DNA of his companies. The mantra is A-B-C-D. (Always Be Connecting the Dots).

In his manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin wrote how students today are educated in “collecting dots. Almost none of it spent teaching them the skills necessary to connect dots. The magic of connecting dots is that once you learn the techniques, the dots can change but you’ll still be good at connecting them.”


Recently, this came to light when I was speaking with a client who was noticing things needing correction and frustrated that employees were not seeing, and addressing, the same things.

I responded stating it’s not a flaw of his seeing things and wanting to improve them that was the problem. The actual problem was why his employees didn’t see those details.

I concluded that this was the single difference between the innovator and the ordinary person: one saw the dots and connected them while others 1) didn’t see them or 2) if they did, they didn’t explore, question, or connect any of them.

This aspect of constant attentiveness to how things are applies to companies, products, brands, as well as to personal brands and is the foundation for this thing we call innovation.


Inspired by this discussion and some of today’s more brilliant minds, I decided to write an essay on innovation.

The closing lines of the essay struck a chord:

So what is innovation?
Those other dots.
The ones others miss.
And having the certainty to know that the dots you see are not only valid but necessary if the world is to move forward.

Creating an Innovation Mindset

An interview with Vijay Govindarajan, Professor, Tuck. To create an innovation mindset, managers must bring in fresh voices from outside their company, encourage collaboration, and consider how emerging markets’ needs can spur ideas for innovative offerings.
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Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and the world’s most influential management guru according to the Thinkers50, lays out his landmark theory.

(RED): The Very Best of Design and Innovation

Watch Sir Jonathan Ive, KBE, and Marc Newson, two of the world’s foremost design pioneers, discuss their collaboration with musician and philanthropist Bono for Sotheby’s (RED) Auction, which celebrates the very best of design and innovation. Sotheby’s (RED) auction will take place in New York on 23 November, with all proceeds donated to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa.

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The Greatest Innovation in Firearms in 150 Years (Maybe)

Shell Shock Technologies asked us to perform a field test on their NAS3 next generation shell casings. In an industry that innovation is relatively slow, this is a potential game changer and could easily replace the current technology. In this video we catalog our 1000 round test using the Angstadt Arms UDP-9. The purpose of this test is to determine if the two part case will separate under heavy use.

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Firearm used, Angstadt Arms UDP-9

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Unless otherwise stated, the subject matter of this video was provided by the manufacturer or another third party at no cost to us. In doing so, VSO reserves all creative rights, including the right to publish negative aspects it deems relevant to consumer decision making processes or continuous improvement of the product. VSO only publishes objective content related directly to tests performed by its personnel. While in depth test results may be shared directly with manufacturers prior to official release, they must agree NOT to: impede VSO’s work, attempt to undermine or alter our results, impugn or undermine our integrity, and must forfeit any expectation of being involved in the review or post production process. No party may pay for our opinion. No party may pay for access to our audience.

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Apple – Diversity – Inclusion inspires innovation

At Apple, we believe inclusion and diversity of experience and ideas drive creativity. As a company, we are committed to the advancement of equality and human rights. Narrated by Denise Young-Smith, VP, Human Resources, Apple.
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Innovation at Google

Presentation by Google CIO Douglas Merrill on Innovation at Google

Business Model Innovation

Business Model Innovation

The fourth part of the series shows how innovations come into being and what myths they are associated with.

For more information on BMI see

For more Information on the Business Model Innovation Certificate – a certificate of advanced studies set in St. Gallen and in the Silicon Valley – see

© University of St.Gallen (HSG)
Text by Prof. Dr. Oliver Gassmann (
Academic Director: Prof. Dr. Thomas Beschorner

To watch the first “Little Green Bags” video on corporate social responsibility (CSR), please go to

To watch the second “Little Green Bags” video on the ten myths of entrepreneurship, please go to

To watch the third “Little Green Bags” video on the energy revolution, please go to

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Innovation at its Best – Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Innovation at its Best - Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Credited as the birthplace of Silicon Valley, HP built its reputation by pushing boundaries, valuing creativity, and establishing a rich heritage of innovation. Now, with the launch of the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise, industry leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg, Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Weiner, Satya Nadella, and others have come together to reflect on the legacy of HP and the future of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

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Innovation First Person APM video – WCG Korea Qualifier 2013

First Person APM video of Innovation, recorded during the WCG Korea Qualifier 2013. Innovation was the first StarCraft 2 Champion for WCS in 2013.

By the way, this is what it looks like when I record one of those videos: Taken by one of the korean journalists

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