Innovating means shipping and executing

As a non-trivial coda to my series of posts on the Nissan DeltaWing and the process of innovating, here's a brief account of how the DeltaWing team fared over the weekend.

When we last checked in on this intrepid crew, they had just finished an epic all-night push to repair their mangled car.  They then took their place on the starting grid at the 1000 miles of the Petit Le Mans, and had a flawless race, finishing an incredible fifth place (as the head of Nissan remarked, likely the most celebrated fifth place in the history of racing).  The drivers drove with speedy care and finess, the work of the engineers endured through the long hours, and the mechanics and support team all did their part along the way.  Though racing always centers on the drivers, it's a team sport of team sports, and when it comes to actually running the race – executing the vision, in other words – the team cook and physical trainer are as important as the head engineer and lead mechanic. 

Here's a nice recap of the team's race experience:

Innovating isn't just about killer ideas or designs.  To say that you've truly innovated, you first need to ship something, which means embodying your ideas in a form which can influence the lives of others.  And then you to achieve impact at scale, which requires meticulous execution of the total business system surrounding your innovation.  Innovation is nothing without experiencing the crucible of having to ship, and the discipline of executing at a level commensurate with the potential you envisioned in the first place.

They payoff to doing what other people said say you cannot do?  Just listen to Ben Bowlby's voice in the video clip above, and then remember his joyous expression.  Priceless.