Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney
An award-winning podcast and nationally syndicated radio show that looks at the innovations that are changing our lives and how their innovators used creativity and design to take their raw idea and create game-changing products or services. Phil McKinney, retired CTO of HP and the creator, and host of Killer Innovations has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that FastCompany and BusinessWeek list as one of the “50 Most Innovative”. His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him the “The Innovation Guru”, MSNBC and Fox Business calling him "The Gadget Guy" and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the "chief seer".

Before becoming CTO at Comcast, Tony spent a good part of his career as the number two guy.  At Rogers Communications, Inc., people counted on Tony to get the job done. From there, he moved on to TCI in the number two role.  His innovative vision soon got him recognized.  A phone call from John Malone surprised Tony.  John had a problem that needed to be solved. With two weeks to mobilize, Tony brought the right people together and came up with a solution.  John was impressed. About three weeks later, Tony was promoted to Chief Technology Officer.  Success to Tony is when opportunity meets preparation.

Steps a CTO Needs to Take

What are some of the first steps a new CTO should take?  Focus on your vision, belief, and financing.


For Tony, the most important thing is to bring people with you.  The people on your team need to be fully on board and passionate about your vision.  Steve Job’s team is a great example. His team brought the innovative ideas.  Steve made those ideas into bigger things. As a CTO, you need a credible plan to sell to your team, to your peers, to the CEO, and the Board.  Then you need to execute.  

CTO Lessons Learned

Looking back on his career, Tony shares some lessons learned.  Do you have your sights on a CTO role? Here are a few words of CTO advice for the innovator:  

  • Be willing to take a step backwards to go forward.  
    • There have been times in his career that Tony has taken a step backward to gain experience.  The value of experience outweighed the financial down step.  
  • Set high expectations for yourself and your team.  
    • Tony feels at times he could have set higher expectations and would have achieved more.

 

CTO Challenges and Success

From my experience as CTO at Hewlett Packard, a CTO has a divided focus.  The challenge is to find a balance between thinking of present goals and thinking years ahead.  Senior leadership support is crucial.

Another bit of advice for the innovator is to vary your experience. What helped me find success was my wide range of experience. For long-term career success, having a variety of experiences can make the difference.  You have to step out of your comfort zone. Be willing to try different roles. Be a part of teams that you would not normally be comfortable in. Having different experiences gave me the confidence I needed to be bold in innovation.  

If you have questions or comments about today’s show, drop me a note.  Join the conversation on this and other topics at The Innovators Community.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

What is the opposite of bravery?  The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity.  The economy demands creativity not conformity. Five Minutes to New Ideas explores the different ways to succeed in a creative economy.  Could these tips further you and your company’s success in today’s creative economy?

Direct download: CTO_Advice_for_the_Innovator.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT