10 Comandments for Innovation

Coming from the last Architectural Biennale in Venice I have to say that we are currently more and more familiarized to listen about the need to innovate in architecture. There, we could see that there are big efforts from different well-known architects and architectural studies in the use of new materials, new products or new processes. Also, we could check there, in Venice expo and conferences, how to innovate both in products and processes is more than a trend, a real need for the future in architecture.

We also can see literature enough about how to innovate in engineering and construction of the future houses, but not only, as the smart cities are the new way of understand the urbanism.

But talking about innovation in architecture requires analyzing first what we understand by innovation.

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society.

But innovation differs from invention. Innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation also differs from improvement cause it refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: “to change”) rather than doing the same thing better.

From my point of view, innovate could be also seen as an art, “the art of innovate”, and more in architectural terms, where all kind of disciplines take part: design, physics, technology…and all of them have to work together to get the desired result.

It is true, that to be innovative sometimes you have to do risky things without knowing if they are going to work or to be successful or not. You have to be brave and creative and be aware that everything could happen. But as it´s said: “who doesn´t take risks, doesn´t win”.

Most of the people when they are asked, how can we innovate in architecture, they answer by the use of more technology, or bioclimatic resources, and that is true, of course, environmental improvements, domotics -home computing, home automation- or other scientific aids help to innovate; but it´s not the only way, I think we can also be innovative in forms, shapes, compositions, using materials with another use from which they are normally for…and that makes me think about the topic “is everything invented?”. Maybe all the bases are invented and we can not innovate in that, but there is a whole world around it, where we can participate.

So, innovate or die? Probably we can not be so radical. Not everything new is good, and not everything old is bad. On the way between this two ends, there are a lot of things. Everything needs a process, and to innovate, first we have to be conscious about what does already exist and about the new needs we are supposed to be able to solve through our innovation.

This is especially true in architecture, there are buildings from the roman period that are better that ones from now, and the other way round, it happens the same. Although the bases have to be more or less the same in architecture: to make a building, to stand it up and try to work in the better way possible, the needs around can change: electricity, power consumption, lightening, to optimize and to minimize, as applicable, the space to the evolving needs of the citizens who are the ones to enjoy and to live the buildings.

Being so, my proposal is to invite you to read this “10 commandments for Innovation” proposed by Guy Kawasaki (one of the world’s leading experts in the field of new technologies and marketing) that can be applicable to all kind of fields.

Think about and analyze how to apply them to your architectural project.


Any project or innovative idea must have as its main goal to change the world and make it better.


If you really want to do something special, do it at the next level. It is not enough to make a 10% better things, do it 10 times better … and usually this is only possible if you avoid paradigms that define the problem and create something new.


If you want to change things, you must have a deep desire to change the world, and also your product must have four qualities:

– Depth: The product must have many features, ability to develop and empower the user, who must grow in product use.
– Intelligence: This feature is obvious in certain products, and makes it clear that someone has spent a long time thinking over the difficulties of the user has, what is the job to do, and what problem is to be solved .
– Full: The product is not just a small part … is something complete that consider the user experience, and as such is designed “end to end”.
– Exclusive: It must be elegant and pleasant to use. The interface should be “logical”, and the client would be natural to use it.

Think digital, act analog. Thinking digital means that companies should use all the digital tools at its disposal–computers, web sites, instruments, whatever–to create great products. But companies should act analog; that is, they must remember that the purpose of innovation is not cool products and cool technologies but happy people. Happy people is a decidedly analog goal.


Do not be afraid to fail. If you wait until the product is fully complete and fully functional, possibly when is placed on the market it has become irrelevant. When you are holding something that gives that leap to the next level, ship it!… Release early, release often!

5. LET 100 FLOWERS BLOSSOM as Mao Tse-Tung said.

Be open to what people can do with your product… which is not necessarily what you have thought. Note, question and discover how your product is used in the real world … maybe you could find interesting things. Customers may use it in another way than the one you expected, or you may use it for something else … Keep an open mind….


The new services and products will cause great passion … some will hate them and others will love them, that’s good. Try to polarize …. indifference kills and leave your product in the vast nothingness of indifference. Do not be afraid to make decisions.


Always keep improving. Look ahead, not fall in love with the first version of your product … as soon as you release, start thinking about the next release, in the next step. It grows … it takes discipline, but you must continue to evolve. Innovation is not an event. It’s a process.


Do something special … to make it unique and to add some value.

Useless: it is something quite special … but that is useless.
Nonsense: Worse still, we have spent money on something absurd
CONSUMPTION: Provides value, but there are a myriad of similar things …
SPECIAL: This is a niche … a “blue ocean”, this is where you will make history!

Break down the barriers. The way life should work is that innovative products are easy to sell. Dream on. Life isn’t fair. Indeed, the more innovative, the more barriers the status quo will erect in your way. Entrepreneurs should understand this upfront and not get flustered when market acceptance comes slowly. I’ve found that the best way to break barriers is enable people to test drive your innovation: download your software, take home your hardware, whatever it takes.

9. FOLLOW – THE 10-20-30 RULE

Sooner or later, no doubt, you will have to talk about your project to people, investors, management, employees … As a rule:

– Use 10 slides
– Use a maximum of 20 minutes (even if you have more time… use the rest to listen and clarify doubts)
– Use a minimum font size 30. If you’re not convinced, take the age of the older attendant who can go and divide it by two and that is the ultimate maximum source.


Do not be discouraged by bozos. No doubt in your way many people will tell you this can not be done, it is not necessary, you will not succeed … Well, all this is a lie!.

Some bozos are clearly losers–they’re the ones who are easy to ignore. The dangerous ones are rich, famous, and powerful–because they are so successful, innovators may think they are right. They’re not right; they’re just successful on the previous curve so they cannot comprehend, much less embrace, the next curve.

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