Inside of creating the foundation for an innovative media company, I listen closely to those I see as innovators. The ones that have the respect of my analytical mind, delight my inner girl geek, present themselves with swag and relevance and speak to my heart.
Some are the usual suspects. Steve always. Eric is intriguing. I heart Arianna. I found Ash on a late night browsing binge. In watching these business and thought leaders, some posthumously, I wonder what they see when they close their eyes.
Do they see what I see? What gives them their spark? What drives them?
In the place between sleep and awake, I dream of "What?" A question I am always asking myself. This morning I saw a puzzle. It had three pieces nestled together, one read "business," another "style and design" and the last "technology." It was obvious one was missing. Actually, it was there, but I didn't quite know how it related to the others.
This was characteristic of my experience at the time. Something is there and I don't quite know how it fits yet. Something I've been iterating. At times it feels really messy in my own attempts to build an innovative company.
I know it feels this way because I am learning to do things differently. I am creating a way that works now but may not have worked in the past, or may even have been thought of as "bad practice." Amazon can relate, selling tablets at cost and making no money on hardware? Google took over email service -- give away email with unlimited space?
Yes. Provide value, build relationships and create an expansive business with loyal customers. The risk and the gift of being innovative and creating something new, can feel like a maze. You know where you want to end up. You know that you'll know when you get there -- even if you don't know what it looks like now. One step at a time, with each step the next is revealed.
So what about this puzzle? I realized there are four questions I've come to ask myself regularly. I'm guessing I've learned it along the way, maybe as an engineering graduate student or in my corporate consulting days.
Now working with teenagers and teaching them to do what I do, I am becoming more present to my process. I see it inherently woven throughout the Venus Meets Isis curriculum. I call it the "Core Four." Four components thread throughout everything I teach, do and speak about.
I am beginning to see the parallels between the Core Four and innovation in business, society and life. They are questions I see posed and answered in different ways by thought leaders, CEOs, tech founders and people committed to living their passion alike: innovators.
Business: What are you doing?
Technology: What tools are you using or creating to do it?
Style & Design: How are you doing it? (What's your swag about it?)
Heart: What are you bringing to IT?
Yes, interconnected, interdependent, definitely not independent, four ways of looking at one thing: What you're bringing to this world. What are you bringing to IT that no one else is? We are a generation of innovators, everybody alive right now -- that is what's breathing us in some shape or form.
In looking at your world, ask yourself these four questions. At Work. At Home. In Your Community. Wherever you are -- innovate.
Note: This post is the first in a series around innovation and new business models that I will be sharing. Please follow, post, comment, and join me in this exploration.