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Jeff DeGraff is a world renowned thought leader, executive and innovation expert. His expertise has been shared globally at top innovation incubators and think tanks such as the Aspen Institute[…]


Jeff DeGraff:  How does innovation create and destroy value?  It's really interesting.  In almost all the wisdom traditions, all the religions, there is always a figure who not only creates all the world, but destroys the entire world.  Picasso used to say, "I am the great destroyer," and of course he invented most of the art movements or at least a lion's share of them in the 20th century.  The challenge is, until you make room for something new, there will be no opportunity to do something.

So think about your own life for a minute.  Think about what is going on in your life.  You might have a novel in you.  You might have a symphony in you.  You might have a new company in you, but until you create capacity to innovate you'll never get to it.  So what I advise people to do is look for what you can kill or stop now because you'll never have capacity, and a lot of what stops innovation is the standard operating procedures that you've got now.  Sometimes it's a lot better to stop something than it is to start it.

My favorite example of a company scenario of this is Apple Computer.  I mean, Apple was in the business of making clones, basically, and trying to compete with our friends who ran on the Microsoft operating system.  So what was interesting was before Apple could get to those really interesting iMacs with all the candy colors, they had to stop production on their existing beige machines, which cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in a time when they were slipping into bankruptcy.  Now almost no company would ever do that.  That is very dangerous move. 

Similarly, back in the day, Microsoft owned the operating system DOS.  It had over 80% of all DOS, all operating systems in the world, but in order to introduce Windows it had to get rid of DOS, which it did to make room for Windows.  So half of the challenge is having the courage, the temerity, the will to actually stop doing something, which is infinitely harder than starting something new.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd