Killer questions, WebOS
As an innovation guru, McKinney comes from the pragmatist school.
"Some people make it sound like a black art that some people are blessed with and others are not," he said. "My point is it’s a skill anyone can learn, it's not a gift from God, so you can learn it and practice it," he added.
Killer questions that make you think out of the box are core tools of innovation, according to McKinney. He created a Twitter feed of such questions and considers his upcoming book the first full compendium of them.
"We get stuck in following rules, we get taught it in school, staying in the lines and putting on blinders," he said. "The best killer questions are ones you can't directly answer, you have to pause and do a discovery process to find new and interesting opportunities," he said.
All the innovation talk these days is more than the latest business fashion, it’s a shift of the tectonic plates, McKinney said. For example, market valuations used to be based largely on tangible assets like factories and machines, but now it's based on intangibles such as patents and even less quantifiable assets.
"Google and Apple have high market caps related to the market's expectations of their ability to innovate the next big thing," McKinney said.
"When executives see this sort of change in stock prices, it changes their values in hiring practices, so this is going to have a huge change in how people think about their businesses and careers," he said.
As he heads into the next phase of his career, McKinney is taking his HP WebOS devices with him and hoping the mobile operating system finds a good home. Rumors suggest Amazon might want it for future Kindles, or maybe China's Baidu could use it in a play similar to Google's Android.
McKinney says he has kept himself out of all such discussions since he submitted his retirement. But he is quick to praise WebOS for being the first mobile OS based on the emerging HTML 5 standard now being widely touted as a point of convergence.
Personally, I think its curtains for WebOS. It started life as the fourth or fifth most interesting mobile OS—at best--behind Android, iOS, the Blackberry and Windows Phone. Now it slips further and further down the list with every day as a corporate orphan.
I'd love to hear what you think about WebOS, the innovation economy or HP under Whitman. Sound off below.
At one time, HP planned to install WebOS on everything from printers and PCs to smartphones and tablets.