An American Innovator in London – Harry Selfridge

Harry Selfridge Harry Gordon Selfridge was born in Wisconsin in 1858.  He was one of three sons.  His father, Robert Selfridge, served as a major with the Union Army in the American Civil War but abandoned his family at the end of the war.  Soon after the war Harry’s two brothers died.   Harry helped his mother, Lois, a teacher, by delivering papers. He left school at 14 to work in a bank and... Read More--


Be Unpredictable – Surprise your Customers and Competitors

Boy Browning Frederick Arthur Montague Browning (1896 – 1965) was known as ‘Boy’ Browning. He served in the British Army with distinction in the First World War.  He was promoted to Adjutant at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.  During the Sovereign’s Parade of 1926, he did something unexpected by the large audience who came to see the closely choreographed and well-rehearsed parade... Read More--


Focus on the Opportunity, not the Problem.

Two groups of engineering students were given a similar task – to design a bicycle rack for a car.  The first group was shown an existing but poorly designed roof rack for bicycles.  They looked at all the issues with the current design and then set out to come up with something better.  The second group was not shown the ineffective roof rack; they were simply told to design a really good bicycle... Read More--


Four Tips on Decision Making from Jeff Bezos

In his 2017 letter to shareholders Jeff Bezos shares some powerful insights into decision making at Amazon. Jeff Bezos “To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business... Read More--


Why Government is Essential for Private Sector Innovation

Steve Jobs announced the iPhone to the world on 9 January 2007. This iconic product became a sensational success and propelled Apple to become the most valuable company on Earth. It created a new product category, the smartphone, which has become the must-have item for people in all nations. It became a platform for secondary markets in apps, music and videos. Steve Jobs, Sir Jonathan Ive and the design... Read More--


Lessons in Innovation from Rome’s Arch Enemy

Hannibal (247 – 182 BC) was an illustrious general of the North African state of Carthage, Rome’s enemy and rival for control of the Mediterranean.  His father was a Carthaginian general, Hamilcar, who made his 9 year old son swear undying enmity for Rome.  As a boy Hannibal went to Spain, which was under Carthaginian control, and trained to be a soldier.  At the age of 26 he was put in command... Read More--


Keep it Simple – Like the Original Spreadsheet

Dan Bricklin was a student on a Harvard MBA course who struggled with all the models and calculations that the case studies required.   In 1979 he invented the world’s first spreadsheet, Visicalc, in order to make his life easier.  Initially Visicalc was available only on the Apple II computer – whose success is largely attributable to this exclusivity. Bricklin gives an interview in... Read More--


Elon Musk – Serial Entrepreneur and founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX

Elon Musk was born in South Africa in 1971. He got his first computer at the age of 8 and started to program. At 17 he went to University in Canada and subsequently settled in the USA where he founded a company, Zip2, which provided online travel guides. Zip2 was an early internet success and in 1999 he sold it to Compaq Computer Corporation for $330m. Straight away Musk started another internet company... Read More--


Literally a Leap of the Imagination

The fans packed into the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City in 1968 saw something they had never seen before.  An athlete competing in the men’s high jump went over with his back to the bar.  The man was a 21 year old American, Dick Fosbury.  He won the gold medal with a leap of 2.24 metres, a new Olympic record. The conventional way to undertake a high jump until then was the straddle method (or... Read More--


How Facebook misses out on Talent

There are pervasive myths that older people are stuck in their ways, lack creativity and dynamism and cannot cope with new technology.  This is reflected in ageism in hiring.  According to research firm Payscale, the median age of a worker at Facebook is 29, at Amazon it is 30 and at Microsoft 33.   In 2007 at age 22 Mark Zuckerberg profoundly stated, ‘Younger people are just smarter. Why are... Read More--