Business Magazine

To Innovate, Collaborate.

Posted on the 12 April 2011 by Alanhargreaves @RechargeToday

Using the CASA Principle 

In 2010, Linus Benedict Torvalds was listed as one of the 100 most influential inventors of all time. What did Linus Torvalds do? He posted a message on an online noticeboard in 1991. He said he was building a free operating system and wanted some help.

The result was Linux. It revolutionized the open source software movement. Today it is everywhere. Torvalds was 22 years old at the time.

Linux didn’t grow in a straight line. It grew in fits and starts; in bits and pieces; with thousands of collaborators. The core driver was this: they shared a common interest and a common goal. If you want change, that’s what you need.

Why would you want change?

“No business model is static. People change, markets shift, economies cycle and technology just keeps evolving. The environment in which you operate is in perpetual motion, even if you aren’t. The challenge for the adaptive manager is not just to catch up if you have fallen behind. Staying current is hard enough, but the real goal is to move to the front and become the leader in your field.” – Recharge, Chapter 52

So how do you do that? Torvalds is a great example. His message was the first step in the CASA principle, a simple process that can turbocharge innovation and change. The first step……..


Real innovation is rarely the result of one person’s actions. A key player might get things moving, but perpetual motion will require more than one moving part. The first step is to assemble the team. What are the strengths required to make this happen? Who has them? They are the people you want on board. That’s who Torvalds got on board with his 1991 enquiry. Next……….


Keep moving. We often prefer inertia to change. It is just easier to stand still; at other times, it is just not clear what the trends are. Yet if we don’t keep moving, we end up needing a major strategic overhaul.  For constant evolution, keep asking three questions. What has already changed? What is changing? What needs to be changed? Instead of making strategy a major marathon, have a culture of regular sprints. A policy of constant adaptation is more engaging, more manageable and less disruptive than massive organisational change.


Just as Superman's first action is to find a phone box, break your plans down into the smallest steps. People can find change threatening, but they can embrace a series of clearly doable actions. Completing each one will be an achievement. Momentum will build as a result. What’s the first action?


By collaborating with others, you will generate both ideas and buy in. It will give you a range of innovative ways to adapt to changing conditions. If you have simplified the route into a series of doable steps, the last step in the CASA process is easy. You just have to take the first action.


Condensed from the book, Recharge, a comprehensive guide to reinvigorating your business by taking innovative action. In bookshops now, or buy it online here.

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