innovation insights

Innovation Insight: You Don’t Have To Be an Inventor to Be an Innovator

One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


Many people confuse the words innovator and inventor; they can be synonymous, but they don’t have to be. Some of the world’s most successful and well known innovators aren’t inventors at all; they are masters of the art of taking an idea or concept and making it better. Often, they are able to make good ideas into the best ideas of all time.

Take Steve Jobs, for example. Famous author, Malcom Gladwell, has dubbed him, “The Tweaker” in a recent article he wrote for The New Yorker. Jobs was a masterful innovator because he was able to take the ideas of others and turn them into winning products and concepts. For example, Jobs got the ideas for the main characteristics of the MacIntosh operating system from Xerox PARC, stemming from a famous visit there in 1979. The revolutionary iPad evolved from an engineer at Microsoft’s idea for a tablet computer. His idea made use of a stylus – an old idea that wasn’t revolutionary enough for Jobs. He did away with the stylus and the iPad made history as one of the most coveted devices of its era.

The moral to this innovation story? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to become an epic success.

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Innovation Insight: If I Wanted to Be a Lawyer, I Would’ve Gone to Law School

One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO

Brain Overload

Once every quarter, I receive a beautiful invitation from my company’s law firm to attend a seminar to learn some important new fact about changes in the law. I never go.

Once every quarter, I receive a beautiful invitation from my accounting firm to learn something new about sales, marketing or motivation. I almost never miss it.

I applaud both firms’ efforts to engage their clients, but in this world of information overload, it’s more important than ever to engage in meaningful conversation with your customers. Service providers add value by enhancing the customer’s skill-set, not by telling them how they’ve improved their own.

Innovation isn’t about what interests you; it’s about what fascinates your customers.

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Innovation Insight: “Smooth, uninterrupted airflow with no unpleasant buffeting”

One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO

With Dyson’s new bladeless fans, generation of kids will be denied the chance to stick pencils through the screen of the household fan to see what happens when they touch the spinning blades. Otherwise, you have to love U.K.-based Dyson, because its innovations are so obvious, yet so breakthrough: safe, bladeless fans that move air without the rumbling and rattling, using technology patterned after jet engines; dual-cyclonic vacuums that suck up more dirt, more efficiently; and airport hand driers that really work.

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