Is English the Language of Innovation?

Mark Zuckerberg wowed his Chinese and Internet audiences when he addressed a group of students in Mandarin. That’s cool. It’s always great to see Americans who can speak more than one language.

In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Bill Fisher writes about “Why English, Not Mandarin, Is the Language of Innovation.”

Fisher outlines several reasons why English is widely accepted in business:

  • English is the language of the Internet
  • English is the international language of business
  • English is the basis for popular computer languages

In San Antonio, Spanish is spoken proudly.

Two Words For Innovators

Two words that kill innovation, according to the Harvard Business Review, are “Prove It.” 

Management loves to crunch numbers, refine, and optimize the established business. Newborn innovative ventures, however, require a different kind of care and feeding. When they reach maturity, innovative ventures should achieve market leadership and even replace the old business. However, in the early stages, they need a little help.

As Tom Cruise famously said in the movie Jerry Maguire, “Help me help you.” Two words that innovators might say in response to “Prove It” are “Help me:”

  • Help me by keeping

The Most Important Thing a Leader Should Do

What is the most important thing a leader should do today?

Good question. Some might say, “Innovate.” Others might say, “Build culture.” Robert Kabacoff, in the Harvard Business Review, boldly stated that the most important thing a leader can do is encourage strategic thinking throughout the organization.

Although I appreciate all of these answers, I’m awarding the last word to Peter Drucker, who wrote that the most important thing a leader should do is to increase the productivity of knowledge workers.

Let me repeat that. The most important thing a leader can do today is to increase the

How to Get the Innovation Mindset

In this classic Harvard Business video, Vijay Govindarajan explains the innovation mindset–how to get it, and how to keep it. In just seven minutes, Vijay masterfully treats a rich array of subjects, including:

  • Change
  • Mindset
  • Listening to new voices
  • Encouraging mavericks
  • Performance metrics
  • Innovation vs creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Toleration for failure
  • New markets

 Because it's so short, and the content is so good, I recommend listening at least three times. If you do, you will be well on the way to getting, and keeping, the innovation mindset!

Innovation in 30 Minutes or Less

Because you can't hear the presentation that goes with these slides, here's the secret decoder ring:
  • Change is normal. Change is good. Change brings opportunity.
  • Innovation is like panning for gold.
  • Everyone is an MVP in innovation culture: Mantra, Values, and Principles.
  • Identify change with 3 little words: Wow (unexpected things), Hmm (puzzling things), or Ouch (uncontrollable things).
  • When opportunities are identified, apply the WE CAN process.
  • W–ask W questions. E–envision possibilities. C–create options. A–approve the best option.