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Innovator


Embracing a continual process of questioning, discovery, and experimentation. Our innovator section provides insight and perspectives about innovation.

An Innovator’s City Guide to São Paulo, Brazil

The tenth-largest city in the world and the largest in the Americas, São Paulo is a unique place. Its size, diversity, and energy outweigh its traffic and concrete jungle. Here you can spend months...

An Innovator’s City Guide to Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, a country that has emerged over the last 20 years as one of the most advanced digital societies in the world. The birthplace of Skype, it has earned...

Stephen Hawking: Martin Rees Looks Back on Colleague’s Spectacular Success Against All Odds

Soon after I enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1964, I encountered a fellow student, two years ahead of me in his studies, who was unsteady on his feet and spoke...

An Innovator’s City Guide to Shanghai

Shanghai is a city full of life. With its population of 24 million, Shanghai embraces vibrant growth, fosters rising diversity, and attracts visionaries, innovators, and adventurers. Fintech, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce are booming. Now...
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How to Unlock Creative Collaboration With Presence and Play

Dan Klein is an improviser, performer, and educator. For the last 20 years, Dan has been teaching classes on improvisational theater, creativity, and storycrafting to Stanford students and executives around the world. He believes...

Elon Musk Is What Happens When These Three Traits Get Together in One Human

I did an interview recently where I was asked to deconstruct Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial success. Having known Musk for 17 years, I’ve had the chance to watch his meteoric rise into someone who is arguably...

Are Accelerators the Secret to Building Truly Great Startup Hubs?

Since Y Combinator’s appearance in 2005, accelerators have been viewed all over the world as magical catapults for taking tech startups to the next level. But are accelerators the silver bullet solution to turning...
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Why Nothing Cuts Through Complexity Like Visual Thinking

Dan Roam is a management consultant who uses visual thinking to make complicated ideas simple. His books Back of the Napkin and Draw to Win explain how anyone can use visual thinking to improve...

These Are the Most Exciting Industries and Jobs of the Future

We’ve all read the headlines: the robots are coming, and they will take our jobs. In fact, up to 45 percent of tasks workers perform can be automated using current technology, let alone future forecasts. However,...

How the Science of Decision-Making Will Help Us Make Better Strategic Choices

Neuroscientist Brie Linkenhoker believes that leaders must be better prepared for future strategic challenges by continually broadening their worldviews. As the director of Worldview Stanford, Brie and her team produce multimedia content and immersive learning...

Business Design Is a Powerful Tool for Breaking Down Bureaucracy

Designing the right business model and value proposition is fundamental to the success of any endeavor—yet rarely have governments used these practices. We caught up with Michael Eales, a business designer and partner at Business...

The World Needs More Scientists: How We Can Train Millions in Virtual Labs

California wild fires, melting arctic ice caps, and record setting temperatures suggest our climate is dramatically changing with potentially catastrophic outcomes for our species. Add to that an increase in the threat of infectious...
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How to Design the Future We Want and Find the Path That Leads to It

Everyone wants to know the future, but how exactly? Authors Julia Rose West and Alida Draudt aim to help people better see the future and take action to shape it. In their book, What the...

Design Takes Tech From Useful to Irresistible—and It Can Be Learned

Nathan Shedroff is one of the pioneers of experience design as a strategy. He is the founding director of the groundbreaking MBA in Design strategy and firmly believes design is a critical and teachable...

How to Supercharge Problem Solving With Visual Thinking

Dan Roam believes we are all capable of using visual thinking to solve complex problems. His first book, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures, helped ignite a movement...

How to Stay Innovative Amid the Fastest Pace of Change in History

Everything is changing again. But this time, it’s happening faster. In his talk at Singularity University’s Exponential Manufacturing Summit in Boston, Deloitte’s Digital Transformation Leader Geoff Tuff gave the audience some great tips for understanding...

How Leaders Can Make Innovation Everyone’s Day Job

This article is part of a new series exploring the skills leaders must learn to make the most of rapid change in an increasingly disruptive world. The first article in the series, “How the...

How to Make an Exponential Business Model to 10X Growth

Leaders often encourage their teams to think big and be more disruptive—but to follow through, people need new tools. We believe that learning how to design exponential business models is a discipline all leaders...

How All Leaders Can Make the World a Better Place

This article is part of a new series exploring the skills leaders must learn to make the most of rapid change in an increasingly disruptive world. The first article in the series, “How the...

If We Can See the Future We Want, We Can Shape It Too

Alida Draudt and Julia Rose West are not only co-authors, business partners, and best of friends, but most importantly, they have differing points of view—which is ideal for two budding Silicon Valley futurists. Alida currently...

8 Principles for Leaders to Make the Most of the Exponential Age (Part 2)

How do top CEOs lead during this exponential age? How do you manage the explosion of information and onslaught of increasing competition? How do you sort through the abundance of opportunity and avoid getting...

8 Principles for Leaders to Make the Most of the Exponential Age

How do top CEOs lead during this exponential age? How do you manage the explosion of information and onslaught of increasing competition? How do you sort through the abundance of opportunity and prevent getting burned out? How...

How Leaders Dream Boldly to Bring New Futures to Life

This article is part of a new series exploring the skills leaders must learn to make the most of rapid change in an increasingly disruptive world. The first article in the series, “How the...

How to Experiment Like the Most Successful, Hyper-Growth Companies Do

Today’s most successful companies, the ones that are “crushing it,” started as a series of crazy ideas, followed by experiments to test just how viable those ideas might be. Experimentation is a crucial mechanism for...

Why the Best Innovators Ask the Most Beautiful Questions

Warren Berger believes questions are more important than answers. A best-selling author and self-proclaimed “questionologist,” Warren is on a mission to help all leaders learn how to use questioning to support innovative, resilient and...

6 Tools Entrepreneurs Must Master to Succeed in an Accelerating World

Being an entrepreneur today is vastly different than it was 20 years ago. Today, each of us has access to more capital, more technological tools, more information, more talent, and more computational power than the...

How the Most Successful Leaders Will Thrive in an Exponential World

We live in challenging times. Geopolitical turmoil, local and national social unrest, cycles of deadly natural disasters, cyber hacks, rising distrust of media and tech companies—many recent disruptive events have taken us by surprise. Nearly...

This Is How to Invent Radical Solutions to Huge Problems

If you force a grasshopper into a jar and fasten the lid, the grasshopper eventually shortens its jump after hitting the lid enough times.  After a while, even if you take the lid off the...

The Motivating Power of a Massive Transformative Purpose

Eradicating diseases, mastering flight, near-instant global communication, going to the moon—humans have developed a taste for making the impossible possible. Though we still face a daunting list of global challenges, we’ve learned that science and...

Vital Lessons on Disruption From the Demise of Corporate Giants

This post is about how to not to be disrupted and, perhaps more importantly, how to disrupt yourself before someone else does. I had the chance to sit down with Ed McNierney, who came out of...
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5 Great Lessons on Scrappy Innovation for Big Companies Like GE

Kevin Nolan, CTO of GE Appliances, spent 28 years at General Electric, “trying to do innovation,” as he puts it, before giving up. He finally accepted he couldn’t do it, internally at least. At one...

Design Sprints — the Secret to Rapidly Developing Products Customers Actually Want

This post will teach you the process of running a design sprint — a method developed by Jake Knapp, a partner at Google Ventures — to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five...

How to Run Wild Experiments Just Like (Google) X

This post explores how to run great experiments in your company, based on recent conversations with my friend Astro Teller, Chief of Moonshots at "X" (formally Google X, Google's R&D factory). X's mission is to invent and...

The Secrets of X: These 5 Principles Will Help Your Company Make Moonshots Happen

This post explores the inside workings of "X" (formally Google X, Google's R&D factory) through conversations with my friend Astro Teller, chief of moonshots. If you want to create a successful, hyper-growth company around solving tough...

Four Key Ingredients Startups Need to Get Right (Hint: They’re All About Culture)

If you want to create a successful, hyper-growth company, you've got to focus on creating the right culture and learning how to rapidly experiment. In this blog, I discuss these two key subjects with Jeff...

6 Reasons Why Industry Needs to Be Agile as Software to Survive

On hearing words like “industry” and “manufacturing” most of us probably picture sprawling assembly lines, heavy machinery, groaning metal, and flying sparks. Few of us likely envision gazelles or fighter jets—agility and manufacturing don’t...

On the Origin of Truly Innovative Ideas

Last week, I wrote about increasing innovation in your company. This week, in Part 2, we'll talk about how to create the right environment and incentives for innovation to flourish. Today's post outlines a few key ideas...

The Recipe for Generating Crazy, Innovative Ideas in Companies

Where do you get your most innovative ideas? How do you increase the rate of innovation in your company? It's probably the most important question a CEO or entrepreneur can ask. Today's post (part 1 of 2) outlines...

12 Industries Disrupted by Tech Companies Expanding Into New Markets

Can a company actually disrupt itself? I often say that businesses must disrupt themselves (before someone else does) to survive. The fact of the matter is: very few companies have actually successfully disrupted themselves. Instead, most successful...

How to Find Something You Would Die for, and Live for It

This post is about achieving "significance" during exponential times. Significance is the feeling that your life (and your work) has had a meaningful and lasting impact. And today, during these exponential times, that impact can be greater...

Question Everything: Your Company’s Biggest Problems Are Its Biggest Opportunities

The world's biggest problems are the world's biggest business opportunities. This also holds true for you. This post is a fun formula for fixing your problems while at the same time creating incredibly powerful startups. Advice to CEOs...

Learning in an Era of Abundant Information and Fleeting Expertise

How to learn is changing, and it's changing fast. In the past, we used to learn by doing — we called them apprenticeships. Then the model shifted, and we learned by going to school. Now, it's going...

How to Disrupt Yourself With Moonshot Thinking and Unholy Alliances

I often consult for Fortune 500 companies who are looking for ways to innovate (quickly). Perhaps they've heard the stat that 40 percent of today's Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist in 10 years. Earlier...

The 4 Steps That Transform Physics Theories Into Groundbreaking New Technologies

Ever wondered how the technology we use every day came into existence? Sure, an engineer designed it, a manufacturer produced it, and some savvy marketing helped sell you the product, but where did the...

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