John Kao on Innovation

An illuminating take on innovation from John Kao, below.

I am fascinated by those who have enjoyed (i.e. created) success in wildly different fields.  Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is a text-book example.  In the early seventies he played guitar on Steely Dan’s seminal albums Can’t Buy A Thrill and Pretzel Logic before moving on to the Doobie Brothers.  Now he works “as a defense consultant and chairs a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.”

Similarly, John Perry Barlow was a rancher who came to fame as a lyricist with the Grateful Dead.  Today, he is a “founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since May 1998, he has been a Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.”

More locally (to the UK), Professor Brian Cox is a British particle physicist, better known as the presenter of various TV science programmes and a former member of the band D:Ream (Things Can Only Get Better).  Kao himself is an “innovation activist”.  He was producer of the film “Sex, Lies and Videotape”, an expert in Chinese medicine whose firms held patents for artificial skin (to help burn victims) and a jazz pianist who played with Frank Zappa.

The transition from operational excellence to innovation…

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