by Asim Jalis
I heard a talk by Max McKeown at Microsoft last week. Here's what
I found interesting.
One reason for his success might be that he speaks his mind. He
spoke a few years ago about "Why Everyone Hates Microsoft".
Now he goes around companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and
Google and acts as a kind of cross-fertilization mechanism for
ideas on how to improve the company: how to innovate, how to
improve employee morale, etc.
Here are my notes from the talk. These excerpts from the talk and
from audience comments, and not my reflections on the subject.
1. Hierarchical production system versus a P2P production system.
Traditional companies are hierarchical. Innovative companies are
a P2P production system.
2. GoreTex culture. No management structure. Leaders who are
simply adopted minute to minute, hour to hour, month to month.
3. What motivates Wikipedia contributors? The same thing as
behind any open source projects: a dash of altruism, a dose of
obsessive compulsiveness, and a good chunk of egotism.
4. You must give credit. People should get credit for what they
do. This spurs innovation. It encourages people to share ideas.
5. What happens to a new idea that is not patentable and not
needed. It ceases to be. You can't come back to it, like you can
to a book. With artifacts there is a place they can exist.
6. When there is nowhere for competing idea to go, it kills
innovation. There is no ecology for new ideas and innovation.
7. There is a conflict between innovation and accountability.
Innovative companies measure and reward ideas, while traditional
companies measure and reward work.
8. Autonomy is necessary for innovation. Open source is not the
answer. Autonomous working with more channels to market is the
answer. You have to know that the thing you are doing, has some
chance of changing something. That's it's going to be so
bastardized that by the time it comes out no one knows what it's
9. Why are there no internal competitors. Why can't more product
groups fail? Create portions of the company that compete with the
rest of the company.
10. Do something for the sheer love of doing it, not just to cash
in on the bandwagon.
11. As market matures you have to standardize and impose
structure to make progress as things get bigger.
12. You need more slack around what you do otherwise you will
have no time for invention. Create fewer good innovations instead
of many bad innovations.
13. Alex Bell: Leave the beaten track occassionally and dive into
the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find
something that you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore
all around it, and before you know it, you will have something
worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big
discoveries aer the results of thought.
14. Anonymous quote:I have to remind my brothers how vital it is
to have one, possibly two fiascos per year. Should Alessi go for
two or three years without a fiasco, we will be in danger of
losing our leadership in design.
15. One big answer is to allow more autonomy.
16. Many inventors retain their childhood spirit of
improvisation, combining it with expertise in one or multiple
fields. These inventors step over the boundaries of one field to
adopt the tools or strategies of another.
17. If you are rewarded for ideas and success then that leads to
a meritocracy. If you are rewarded for following the process then
you have a system which rewards existing seniority.
18. People self-organize based on interest.
19. In stores it should be easy to buy. In companies it should be
easy to innovate.
20. Don't live in a box. Innovate wherever you want. Create