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Tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki on Steve Jobs and art of innovation

'Most important institution in Silicon Valley that fuels innovation is the IT Department of Stanford University'

Published: Updated:

“Great innovation occurs because people ought to make meaning to change the world. If you look at the great companies out of Silicon Valley or any part of the world, the great companies inevitably make people happier, more creative or more productive,” said Guy Kawasaki, Apple Fellow and Silicon-Valley based Author, Innovation Evangelist and Entrepreneur, in Dubai on Monday.

“The companies that truly make people have a better life, they make meaning and also make money. So I’ve come to the conclusion that if you make meaning, then you will probably also make money. The key there is to start with making meaning,” he said.

He was delivering the international keynote at the Innovation Live event held under the auspices of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and spoke on how to embrace the art of innovation .

Kawasaki had two stints at Apple and recalled the pioneering days as the Chief Evangelist there in the company of the legendary Steve Jobs.

“Great innovation occurs when you are not content to do things 10 percent or 15 percent better. Great innovations occur when you’re getting to the next curve.”

10 steps to successful innovation

Kawasaki went on to reveal his top 10 tips – and one more, for effect - for achieving innovative goals to an enraptured Dubai audience.

1. Make meaning and change the world.

2. Make a ‘mantra’ — sum up your goals in two or three words to keep your employees and customers focused.

3. Jump to the next curve — find new techniques, new products, new markets. Great innovation occurs when you get to the next curve, instead of competing at the same level.

4. Roll the DICEE — make sure your product is Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering and Entertaining.

5. Don’t worry, be crappy — don’t aim for perfection at launch, get the product out. Most new products were crappy. Steve Jobs used to say “Geniuses ship.”

6. Let 100 flowers blossom — if customers you didn’t intend to target buy your product for a purpose you didn’t intend, don’t argue. Just take the money.

7. Polarize people — some will love your product or service, some will hate it. But the worst thing is when people don’t care.

8. Churn, baby, churn — You need to ignore critics and skeptics and ship your version one, version two or version three, constantly improving products on the way. But once you ship, you have to start listening to people again.
9. Niche thyself — True innovators should be producing something unique and of value.

10. Follow the 10/20/30 Rule — Life is a pitch. You should learn to pitch with 10 slides, in 20 minutes, using 30-point fonts.

11. And lastly, don’t let the clowns grind you down.

Key to Silicon Valley’s success

Kawasaki closed by offering the audience, consisting of public and private sector attendees advice: “The most important thing is a great school of engineering, if you have a great school of engineering. These students will become engineers and by definition they will want to make stuff, some stuff will be great – that’s the core. The key is to support the engineering department of your schools.”

“The key to Silicon Valley is not venture capital or the bankers. The most important institution that fuels innovation is the IT Department of Stanford University. If Dubai or the Gulf region wants to create an eco-system of innovation, the easiest way is to get the professors from Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Carnegie Mellon University and pay them more,” said Kawasaki.

He also spoke about working with Steve Jobs who was a perfectionist and had a low tolerance for imperfection. For Jobs, engineers were artists and heroes. He had greater esteem for engineers than marketeers.

About Apple under Tim Cook, Kawasaki said he wants his former company, where he had worked in the pioneering days, to succeed. But he confessed he has not seen any signs of revolutionary ideas or technology breakthroughs from them.

In other words, the tech giant looks like struggling to reach the next curve.