Innovation in Action

The term “innovation” is everywhere. This buzzword crosses sectors from businesses to non-profits to government. It is easy to tack “innovation” onto any strategy but the true test of innovation is in the actual doing.

A great example of innovation in action is demonstrated by the recent corporate alliance between Toyota and Tesla Motors to create an electric RAV4 sport utility vehicle, which was profiled in the Chicago Tribune by Nobuyuki Kojima and Takanori Yamamoto. Toyota leadership adopted and applied Tesla’s innovative development strategy for this particular project with remarkable results.

“While Toyota usually makes intricately-detailed plans before starting development, Tesla tends to proceed with development first and correct any problems as they arise. Respecting schedules may be appropriate when developing many cars, but one should not be afraid to make mistakes when trying to achieve something more quickly, Tesla Chief Technical Officer J.B. Straubel said. That is the basis of Tesla’s development philosophy.”

The result was a prototype of the car completed in just 3 week, an amazing feat and an inspiration to us all. While the car continues to be modified before its release to the public, the first major hurdle has been overcome – starting the project. In any innovative project there are unknowns and uncertainties. However to be truly innovative one must accept these as a part of the process rather than as obstacles to overcome before beginning.

Something to ponder: When you get bogged down in the seemingly endless planning and analyzing of your “innovative project” just remember, if they can build a car in 3 weeks what could you accomplish in 3 weeks?