innovation excellence weekly - issue 36
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DESCRIPTIONWe are proud to announce our 36th Innovation Excellence Weekly for Slideshare. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to 5,500+ innovation-related articles.
June 20, 2013
Issue 36 June 14, 2013
1. Innovators Challenge Orthodoxies: Elon Musk ......................................... Rowan Gibson
2. A Brilliantly Simple Way to Boost our Creativity ....... Jerome Provensal
3. Phone as Bank: Are You Ready for Disruptive Innovation? ...... Holly G Green
4. 4 Ways Technology Is Transforming Business........... Greg Satell
5. Microsoft ReOrg Crafty or Confusing? ......... Adam Hartung
6. (Mis)understanding Technology ..... Greg Satell
7. The Design Manager Comprehensive Role in Innovation Process .... Nicolas Bry
8. Innovation is All Relative ........ Kevin McFarthing
9. Using Books as Tools ....... Julie Anixter
10. Innovative Feelings ............ Jeffrey Baumgartner
Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and
strategic advisors to many of the worlds leading companies.
Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making
innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.
Cover Image credit: Mom Daughter Style
Innovators Challenge Orthodoxies: Elon Musk
Posted on June 6, 2013 by Rowan Gibson
Great innovators tend to be contrarians. They have an almost innate tendency to challenge industry orthodoxies, upend
conventional wisdom, and turn the seemingly impossible into the possible. For me, one of the greatest modern examples
of this is Elon Musk of Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla fame.
If you didnt catch Elons interview at the recent All Things Digital conference, its a must-see video for anyone who
claims to take innovation seriously.
You can view the full video here.
Lets go back in time to the Wild Wild Web of the mid- to late-nineties, when it simply wasnt safe or easy to move money
around online. Musk refused to accept that it had to be so, or that only giant financial services companies could come up
with a solution. So in March 1999 he decided to start his own Internet financial services company, called X.com, which
quickly became one of the Webs leading financial institutions. One year later, in March 2000, X.com bought another
Internet startup called Confinity and formed PayPal. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion. Today, Paypal is the
leading global online payment transfer provider.
So what did Elon Musk do next? Sit back and enjoy his millions? Nope. He set out to take on some even bigger, and
arguably much more important innovation challenges. Indeed, as Chris Anderson put it last year in a Wired magazine
interview, he decided to disrupt the most difficult-to-master industries in the world.
The first of these challenges was reinventing space rocket technology a field that was
assumed to be the exclusive territory of large government-funded organizations like NASA
with the audacious goal of reducing the cost of rocket launches by a factor of 10. Another
challenge was reinvigorating space exploration itself (NASAs efforts were being choked by
continuous budget cuts), with the even more audacious goal of launching a privately-funded
manned mission to Mars within 10 to 20 years. In June 2002, Musk founded SpaceX with
$100 million of his early fortune, and set out to redesign space rockets and space exploration
from scratch, challenging a plethora of orthodoxies and assumptions that had been around since the 1960s.
His initial and most fundamental question was Why do space rockets have to be so expensive? Musk took a look at the
actual material cost of a space rocket the aluminum alloys, titanium, copper, and carbon fiber and found that it
represented only about 2 percent of the typical price of the rocket itself. So, having decided that this was a crazy and
unacceptable ratio, he set out to design and build his own space rockets (!) at a fraction of the normal cost.
In the process, Musk identified all kinds of absurdities in the aerospace market.
He found that it was largely bogged down by bureaucracy, and locked into legacy technologies from the past, which was
keeping prices unnecessarily high. By challenging these absurdities, Musk was able to figure out ways of doing things that
he calculates could save US taxpayers at least a billion dollars a year.
Over the last decade, Musks SpaceX team has designed, built and launched a whole series of next-generation rockets
that have literally changed industry economics. In 2008, NASA awarded SpaceX a $1.6 billion contract for 12 cargo flights
to and from the International Space Station, effectively replacing the Space Shuttle. And on May 25th, 2012, SpaceX
made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully dock with the
International Space Station.
Another important question Musk asked was, Why cant space rockets be reusable?. Most people think the space
shuttle was reusable, but in fact the main tank was thrown away after every flight, and the refurbishment of other parts
before each new mission was so expensive that the shuttle actually cost four times more than an expendable rocket with
its sequentially ejected stages.
Musks argument is that full and rapid reusability is the fundamental thing thats necessary for humanity to become a
space-faring civilization. America would never have been colonized if ships werent reusable. So SpaceX has made this
another primary goal. In 2010, it became the first private company to successfully launch a spacecraft into Earths orbit
and then bring it back. And now Musk is testing his incredibly ambitious Grasshopper Project, which is a huge Falcon 9
rocket that can take off, go into orbit, then turn around and return to the launch site, landing vertically, like something from
a 1950s Sci-fi movie.
All of this has been just a precursor to Musks ultimate goal of colonizing space.
SpaceXs first manned flights under a NASA award are expected in 2015. And, after radically reducing the cost of
space flight and making rockets reusable, Musks original question Why cant we send people to Mars? (the question
that drove him to found SpaceX in the first place), doesnt seem so ridiculous after all.
Oh and, by the way, in his spare time Elon Musk is also reinventing the way we drive. In 2003, he co-founded Tesla
Motors to create affordable mass market all-electric vehicles for mainstream consumers. Ten years later, his Tesla Model
S is the third best-selling luxury car in California (the biggest economy in America and the 12th largest in the world), after
Mercedes and BMW, with a 12.7% share of the market.
The Model S has received the highest Consumer Reports score of any car since 2007, and has picked up numerous
awards. Tesla has understandably become a favorite on the NYSE, with the stock up 185% this year (2013), and 72%
over the last month alone. Shares are up 447% since the company went public in late June 2010. In fact, Teslas market
capitalization has risen by more than $4 billion since May 8, hitting a recent high of $10.7 billion, putting SpaceX on a par
(in terms of market cap) with Staples, Tiffany and Whirlpool. The company has recently raised a billion dollars of new
cash, and has paid off its half-a-billion dollar federal loan (part of Obamas clean energy program) almost a decade early.
Not bad for a venture that everyone in the automobile industry predicted would be a disaster.
Again, Musks whole success story is based on his propensity for challenging industry orthodoxies. In the All Things
Digital interview mentioned earlier, he talks about two false assumptions that have dominated the thinking of Detroits
senior executives for decades. First, that you couldnt make a compelling electric car one that was aesthetically
appealing, long-range, and high performance. And, second, that even if you did all those things, people would still not
buy it because it was electric. There also were other deeply-held and widely-shared beliefs that had put the brakes on the
electric car opportunity for years (following GMS failed foray into this space in the 1990s with the EV-1). Musk had been
told, Youll never be able to bring it to market, youll never be able to produce it in volumes, and youll never be able to
make a profit. But, although its early days and the jurys still out, it would seem that these industry experts may all have
been completely wrong.
In addition to transforming space travel and automobiles, Elon Musk is transforming energy with SolarCity, a startup that
leases solar-power systems to homeowners as well as educational, commercial and governmental users. And he has also
hinted at another breakthrough project he has been working on in secret, called Hyperloop. He admits that he was irritated
when he found out about the Californian governments proposal to invest $60 billion in a bullet train project from LA to San
Francisco, because, as he argues, it would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. As an
alternative, Musk is proposing a hypothetical mode of high-speed transportation that he describes as a cross between a
Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table. He estimates that the cost of his SF-LA Hyperloo