What's with the Blue Lobster?

                          Blue Lobster from a Lobsterman at South Bristol Coop, Maine

There are a million great ways to think about innovation.  I boil my definition down to a simple formula: Network + Serendipity = Innovation. 

How did I come to that? Well, we need to go to Maine for that.  I first discovered Pemaquid Harbor, a little inlet on Maine's craggy coast, some years ago through a college friend.

The University of Maine's Darling Marine Center is nearby and studies blue lobsters. Now if you don't know (and I didn't at the time), blue lobsters are on in two million.  When the Darling Center is done studying the blue lobsters, they dump them back into the harbor.  So, little Pemaquid Harbor tends to have more than one in two million blue lobsters.

Now what's that got to do with innovation? Well, it makes me think that the Network (college friend) + Serendipity (Darling Marine Center) = Innovation.  Innovation underlies how I think about Strategy.  Strategy is a Verb - it's asking Why, Why Not, What If, underpinned by And, Both ... not Either/Or.   And, when faced with challenges or opportunities, we try to solve it immediately.  Instead we should

Rush to Discover, Not to Solve!

Rush to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can about the problem - why(x5) it's a problem, how it's being solved (if at all, regardless of how elegantly), the context and constraints surrounding those who view it as a problem - and create hypotheses based on these discoveries.  Figure out which hypotheses are the most critical to test to create a valuable solution and start testing!  Learn,  apply that learning, and start testing again til you get a viable, sustainable solutions.  In other words:

   Experiment - Learn - Apply - Iterate ... Fast & Forever