Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."

This Steve Jobs quote courtesy of Subconscious Films.

I perceive innovation as a driving force, an imperative or fundamental value. It shows up in a leader as the act or practice of improvising - making the implicit explicit to satisfy a need. An Apple PowerBook or iPod are both good examples. While the underlying architectures of a laptop or an mp3 player were well understood the Apple designs are innovative because some talented people, leaders in their field, improvised around those general themes to create exceptional products.

Innovation is a quality of a leader but not exclusively so. What about the people who purchase Apple products? They are followers! While innovation shows up in a leader as improvising it shows up in a follower as responding. Continuing the example, Apple's innovative designs resonate with a segment of consumers who respond by purchasing their products.

Innovation is a value important both to one who leads and to one who follows. In this context, leading and following are really distinguished according to how innovation manifests, in improvising or responding.

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