Monday, 1 August 2016

Lessons from Wagner about innovation: 13. encourage people to identify with the vision and motivations of the innovator

Previously, I described how transforming Wagner's music from a perceived life-threatening toxin into an invigorating tonic encouraged people to listen to and support it. 

The success of this transformation owed much to the fact that people were encouraged to get to know the creator of the tonic and personally identify with him: a case of trust and admire the man and trust and admire the music.

This was achieved through the written word. Wagner wrote about not only his own works but also his wider vision for the future of art and music. (Click here to see a list of Wagner's writings.)

From today's perspective, some of the things he has to say are at best dubious and at worst racist. At the time they where written, however, their overall effect was to encourage curiosity which led to interest which, for some, gradually became an identification with and attraction to the man himself.

This effect was very marked within late 19th century America, where many aspiring business leaders began to see Wagner as 'the embodiment of the American Dream' and therefore a person to identify with and emulate within their own spheres of influence.

More recently, Steve Jobs created a similar effect with his globally broadcast and distributed Apple presentations. During these presentations Steve Jobs not only talked about his company's innovations and inventions but also shared his personal vision for the future of technology and the impact it should have upon the world.

Many aspiring business leaders, seeing Steve Jobs up close and somewhat personal through his widely available videos, began to identify with and be inspired by the man, and this encouraged ever-increasing support for Apple's innovations and inventions: as with Wagner, it was a case of trust and admire the man and trust and admire the innovations. 

So, like Wagner and Steve Jobs, make a point of writing and talking not only about your innovations but also more widely about the personal visions, beliefs and values which drive you on and influence your wider thinking and actions.

Give people the opportunity to identify with the motivations of the innovator and watch it make the popularity of the innovation grow.

(To read more posts in this series go to the July, August and September 2016 Blog Archive.)


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