innovation excellence weekly - issue 36

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We 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, which

quickly became one of the Webs leading financial institutions. One year later, in March 2000, 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