If you want a culture of innovation, there are certain conditions for it. The culture of an organization is about habits and habitats—creating a habitat where people feel their ideas are welcomed, empowered and rewarded, and creating a physical environment that develops new ideas.

Ken Robinson


Introducing Rip Cord

Rip Cord is a simple improvement upon the classic roll of packaging tape. This tape has a small string running down the center of the tape. The user pulls the string to separate the tape in half. This makes opening boxes a cinch, as there is no longer a need for scissors, knives, or keys. The packaging tape dispenser has a sharp edge with which to cut the tape, this edge is shaped such that the tape is cut to provide a tab at the center. This tape makes it easy for users to locate and lift the string.

I love seeing innovations that will — in a small way — make the world better for everyone, like rip cord.

(via fuckyeahinnovation)

Making Time


Innovations now are increasingly about rethinking and redoing historical models of production, and using time to advantage:

Claire Cain Miller and Stephanie Clifford, E-Commerce Companies Bypass Middlemen to Build Premium Brand

What is empowering the upstarts now is the Web’s ability to reach lots of consumers without the costs of operating physical stores as well as a change in manufacturers’ willingness to work with small brands.


Because they are not dependent on third parties, these e-commerce companies can also introduce products much more quickly.

Crane and Canopy, for example, releases new duvet covers and sheet sets every other week and designs textiles based on current trends on Pinterest and elsewhere, instead of planning collections seasons ahead of time like most brands, said Karin Shieh, its co-founder.

“We want consumers to get those products immediately, so we connect our customers directly with the factories that are currently making bedding for Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and high-end brands,” Ms. Shieh said.

But Crane and Canopy sells the bedding without all the extra costs. A queen-size white pintuck duvet cover on its site, for instance, is $119, while a similar one by DKNY is $400 at Bloomingdale’s.

Crane and Canopy’s principals leveraged their knowledge of what factories were making for others. How do they get that information? Personal relationships with the factory owners allows them to build their offers and production in the draft behind other, larger, slower competitors.

They are making time out of thin air, and cleaning their competitor’s clocks.

Tom Agan, Why Innovators Get Better With Age


Yet another trend headed in the wrong direction. Companies are letting go of innovators because they are in their 50s.

Tom Agan, Why Innovators Get Better With Age

According to research by Alex Mesoudi of Durham University in England, the age of eventual Nobel Prize winners when making a discovery, and of inventors when making a significant breakthrough, averaged around 38 in 2000, an increase of about six years since 1900.

But there is another reason to keep innovators around longer: the time it takes between the birth of an idea and when its implications are broadly understood and acted upon. This education process is typically driven by the innovators themselves.

For Nobel Prize winners, this process usually takes about 20 years — meaning that someone who is 38 at the time of discovery will most likely be nearly 60 when he or she receives the prize. For most eventual laureates, that interval is spent attending and making presentations at conferences, networking with colleagues, writing additional papers, editing academic journals and talking with the press.

Let’s assume that with company resources, it will take a corporate innovator 10 years instead of 20 to educate others about the nature, implications and applications of a new idea. If that’s true, a reasonable target retention age for attaining an average level of innovation would be at least 50.

YET despite the overall aging of the work force, many organizations are heading in the opposite direction. One executive at a major investment bank remarked with concern that the average age at his firm was 32. This phenomenon is not unique to corporations. Many medical institutions and universities  have also shifted to younger workforces. Butaccording to research by Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University, a 55-year-old and even a 65-year-old have significantly more innovation potential than a 25-year-old.

If an organization wants innovation to flourish, the conversation needs to change from severance packages to retention bonuses. Instead of managing the average age downward, companies should be managing it upward.

Looking at Nobel Prize winners might be a bit off the mark, but I wonder about the average age of patent holders: are they going gray, as well?

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