By Manisha Bajaj, SIOP Blogger
What makes Apple, one of the market leaders in terms of innovation today?
In this blog, I examine five guiding principles that seem to increase our capacity for innovation, as exemplified by innovators such as Steve Jobs.
I also debate how these principles can be applied as we conduct research on innovation using I-O Psychology approaches, for developing theory and practice. I invite you to think through these factors with me and provide your comments.
1. Embrace a Futuristic Approach
Steve Jobs was a rebellious, revolutionary thinker. He wanted to change the world and focused on making products for the future. He did not restrict his focus to the needs of people based exclusively in the present, but also focused on future needs. None of us knew we would need a touch screen phone that we could also use as a device to read our e-books!
Do we, I- O Psychologists, have a futuristic approach? When looking for gaps in the literature to make a case for our dissertation thesis, do we direct our focus on areas that will not only help us address the concerns of current organizations but also those of organizations in the future?
2. Identify! Execute! –––> Innovate!
Steve Jobs was able to identify a good idea when he saw one! He may have not created the product itself but he saw its potential before others saw it; the mouse, which Steve Jobs saw at the Xerox research labs, is just one example. His ability to innovate was embedded in his ability to see an idea, to assess its value for the future, to connect the dots and to execute.
How often do we, I-O Psychologists, identify good ideas when we see one? Are there theories and models in other fields that can be applied to organizations? Do we borrow from other disciplines, connect the dots and create unique applications for the organizations of tomorrow?
3. Connect with People
Steve Jobs focused on making products that are user friendly and simple to use. He focused on the interaction and experience people would have with their Apple product. Jonathan Ive, designer of the iMac, said that he wanted to create a product people would love. Apple focused on building an emotional connection with people. How many times have you heard people say “Oh I just love my iPhone/iPad/iPod, it is the best thing ever.”
How many times have we heard practitioners say, “I love this model/theory, it is the best thing ever.” Do we focus on the interaction and experience practitioners would have with the theories and models we create? Can we create something that people in the organizational world (not only practitioners but employees, managers and leaders) will embrace just as they embrace iPhones? Can we make something so simple, interactive and yet useful for people?
4. Focus on Aesthetics and Experience
Steve Jobs brought style to what was earlier known as a very dull and drab machine. Colorful and translucent iMacs; black, silver and white panels with a lighted Apple icon; futuristic Apple retail stores that create a unique experience for people make Apple stand out from its competitors.
Can we incorporate simple design, aesthetics and style in our models? In what ways can we create unique and collaborative sessions where our clients can directly provide input to our theory building efforts? Is it a challenge we are willing to undertake?
5. Leverage being Soft People in a Hard World!
When Apple entered the cellular phone market, it promoted itself as being the only software company in the hardware business! By bringing software to the hardware industry, Apple capitalized on its strengths and revolutionized the hardware (cellular phone) industry.
We, I-O Psychologists, often feel intimidated in the hardcore corporate world, which is full of numbers and quantifiable details. Can we use the case of Apple to inspire ourselves and capitalize on our strengths - our knowledge about the softer side of business to revolutionize the corporate world?
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” – Steve Jobs
Can we use the above five principles to become innovative and leaders of tomorrow? Ideas that I suggest above might appear foolish – Steve Jobs, in his speech at Stanford University convention inspired graduation students to - stay hungry, stay foolish… to change the world, push the human race, and think differently.
I am all set to think differently! Have I tempted you to join me?!