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Stefan Lindegaard on Open Innovation
Articles from long-time blogger and open innovation guru, Stefan Lindegaard
Be Innovative Rather than Strive to Become Innovative
I once did a workshop at a company trying to establish processes for innovation. This company was in much better shape than others, because it was run by entrepreneurs who liked spinouts that offer many opportunities for employees who have the drive and capabilities needed for creating new ventures.
Nevertheless, the management team was spending much energy on one big question: How do we become an innovative company and how do we convince our employees that we can reach that goal? I invited them to turn this question around: What if it is not a question of becoming, but one of being? The company already had initiatives that would qualify it as being innovative, so the foundation for this shift was in place. A better question: What should the next steps be?
It begins at the top.
You cannot convince anyone unless you are convinced yourself. The management team really needs to believe in their own innovation capabilities. Keep it simple; discover just a few capabilities on which everyone agrees that the innovation level is high, then use this common understanding as the platform for the other steps.
Let proof follow perception.
Perception is everything. Once the management team discovers their real innovation capabilities, make a survey or conduct some other benchmarking exercise that turns this newly found perception into proof.
Offer real initiatives.
Now, it is time to step up with real initiatives that convince employees, customers, and other stakeholders, including external partners, that their opinions and contributions to the innovation process are truly valued. Such initiatives could range from simple idea boxes to 24-hour innovation camps to business plan competitions and networks for internal innovators and potential external innovation partners. The real challenge is to listen and actually do something with the results on a regular basis.
Make it public.
There is nothing more satisfying for employees than reading about their own capabilities, or even better, having family, friends and business contacts read about them. So work out great stories and let the world know how good you are. Then your employees will begin to believe.
Again, this is very much about perception rather than facts. Manage the perceptions right and the reality will follow. Your company will be on track to have innovation capabilities integrated into its DNA.
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