Why outsiders innovate best

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 by Alan Pizzaiolo TribeNo comments

This week we released our interview with Andrea Brunetti, a young talented pizzaiolo from the north of Italy, whose pizzeria is called “Acqua & Farina”. Andrea started his business at 21, with no previous experience.

This reminded me of how important it is to innovate and who are the most innovative people. As the moment I am listening to Steve Jobs biography, there was no better time to listen to Andrea’s interview and think about how great ideas and innovations come about.

Like many others before him, Andrea was told he was too young to run a business and his new concept of Gourmet Pizza would not work. Steve Jobs was told many times that his ideas would not work either, and now he is considered one of the greatest visionaries of our times. To make a more relevant example, Heston Blumenthal went through the same. Heston opened the Fat Duck in Bray, a small town with 4500 inhabitants. Unlike other chefs that travel around Europe to work in the best Michelin star restaurants to hone their skills, Heston had not previous classical training. But this turned out to be the winning factor. Without the teachings and notions of other chefs he could experiment and push the boundaries, creating an experience that was altogether different.

Gallup (the consultancy firm), in their famous book by Marcus Buckingham “First, break all the rules”, argues that we should hire for talent first, rather than look at a CV and think that past experiences give us a window to the future. This, in other words, means that every once in a while a person with no previous training or experience in a specific field, will succeed because in addition to having talent, they start with a clean slate, no preconception, no dogma. This gives them clarity of mind, the possibility to envision things in a different way that many of us, having done the same things over and over, just can’t achieve.

Some famous examples of people thinking outside the box are Steve Jobs going to a Jelly Beans factory to see how they achieved translucent colours (something he would later use on one of the first Macs) or the US Border agency sending its staff to Disney World to be trained on customer service.

So think outside the box, forget about the past and dare.

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