User login



Tom Peters' Top 10 on Innovation
Sep, 25,2012

According to one of management’s most renowned thinkers, Tom Peters, libraries are full of books on innovation. However, he felt the urgent need to make available to his readers a summary of his four decades of experience in the field.

What is this summary all about? 10 concrete, no-funny stuff tips (a common characteristic of Peters), that summarize the most essential knowledge on innovation he has acquired over his admirable career as author and expert on excellence. We share them with you in the following. 

  1. Try it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. He who tries the most stuff wins.
  2. Prototype it. A particular form of trying—some model of some part of "it" that everybody quickly has an opportunity shoot at. This document is #31 in a series of 48 highlights from Tom Peters' The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. For more information, visit
  3. Celebrate failure. Keyword: CELEBRATE. Not "tolerate," but "celebrate"—if "most tries" are king, then "most failures" are necessarily crown prince.
  4. Hang Out Axiom. Every "hang out" decision is an innovation decision: Yes. Or: No. That is, hang out with interesting, get more interesting. Hang out with ordinary, get more ordinary.
  5. Diversity. That is, diversity on any damned dimension imaginable. In any and every situation. More variety = Higher odds of success!
  6. Parallel Universe. Frequently the resistance to change is so strenuous that one must, in effect, give up on normal channels. So create a pretty-damn-separate "new world" (new folks, new location, new attitude, etc., etc.)—a parallel universe.
  7. XFX/Cross-functional Excellence. Ninety percent (95 percent?) of innovation requires working across functional borders, so Border Bashing/X-border Love is key to innovation success.
  8. R&D Equality. "Research" is not the exclusive provenance of the new product folks. Every department needs a well-funded, highly regarded R&D activity; the clear expectation is that every unit/function will be as well-known for its innovation record as for its execution of standard tasks.
  9. Hire and promote innovators. The best test of innovation potential is ... a track record in innovation. If you are assessing a 26-year-old candidate and there are no cases-of-innovationworth-bragging-about in his past—then don't expect much in the future.
  10. Fun! Innovating is about breaking the rules—often our rules. There is a certain mischievousness about innovative organizations—not fun & games, but pleasure in sticking a finger in convention's eye, especially one or more of our own conventions.

Have you put any of these tips into practice?