How to Innovate Like a Shark

In 1975 a young director with no big films credits under his belt, set out to make a horror film. Steven Spielberg wanted his film filled with violent and gory shark attacks. He wanted us to watch as this massive animal, built to kill, would attack his unsuspecting prey. But there was a problem. The mechanical sharks that were supposed play a staring role in the film rarely worked as expected. As much as the young director wanted graphic shark attacks, he couldn’t have them.

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Frustrated, the team found another solution. They left most of the violence to our imaginations. Viewers would see a fin, then someone would disappear under the water, and then the water would turn red. That’s it. In other scenes, we wouldn’t even see a fin, we’d see a yellow barrel surfing across the water, knowing that it was a shark, deep below, towing the rope attached to the barrel towards the next victim. The effect was so scary and so powerful, it influenced our entire society.

Though people were of course aware of sharks prior, there was little thought given to them when they went to the beach. After Jaws, however, there was a significant increase in shark hysteria that remains to this day. The funny thing is that there are more people killed by dogs each year than have been killed by sharks since they started counting sharks attacks.

The brilliant way in which Spielberg told the story of Jaws did not happen in a brainstorming session and it was certainly not planned. It was the solution he found when what he wanted wasn’t possible. The malfunctioning robots forced him to find another solution.

We have a false belief that innovation happens with lots of money and resources. In fact, the opposite is true. It is a lack of resources, it is a lack of money, it is after something goes wrong are we able to truly innovate – to truly re-imagine how something could work. This is why large companies rarely produce truly innovative products – because they have the money and resources to build anything they want. The problem is, the things they want aren’t that innovative because they weren’t hindered or forced to find new ways. Small businesses, in comparison, are where big ideas happen. Slim on money and resources, they figure out how to make something work with what they have. Then big businesses buy the small businesses for their big ideas.

To be clear, Spielberg was also a student of film. Without his mechanical shark, he was able to defer to his knowledge. He knew the techniques that Alfred Hitchcock used in his movies to build suspense – foreboding music, simple details and an view of the aftermath. The suspense, Spielberg knew, happened in our imaginations, not in our eyes. Though he knew this, he didn’t need to tap that knowledge until he had to. And that’s where having less produces more. There are plenty of smart people at large companies who don’t tap their brilliance because they don’t need to. They have all the resources they need. Smart entrepreneurs, in contrast, have no choice but to rely on their smarts and that’s why they can run innovation circles around large companies every single day.

Innovation is not born from the dream; innovation is born from the struggle. Innovation, at its core, is not simply about building the future; innovation is about solving problems in the present. And the best innovations, just like the shark in Jaws, is often something we don’t even know is there.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is an optimist. He believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together. Described as "a visionary thinker with a rare intellect," Simon teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. With a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people go home everyday feeling fulfilled by their work, Simon is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

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