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The last 40 years have seen an explosive adoption of new technologies (social media, telecom, life sciences, etc.) and the emergence of new industries, markets and customers. Not only are the number of new technologies and entrants growing, but also increasing is the rate at which technology is disrupting existing companies. As a result, while companies are facing continuous disruption, current corporate organizational strategies and structures have failed to keep pace with the rapid pace of innovation.
Sooner or later it occurs to the leaders of nearly every organization that their own employees should be a source of ideas that can improve their businesses. They then set about to tap into this valuable source of knowledge. Many of their efforts go astray, however, and result in idea systems that fail and are even counterproductive, in that they demotivate rather than motivate. Why do they go wrong?
Open innovation presents more efficient working that can benefit projects both large and small, and across international borders. As seen with Sponge UK, cross-team collaboration maximises the use of individual skillsets and strengthens project delivery. This approach can be applied to any sector, and can also be used to deliver efficiency in large projects.
Why should you expand your network and what do you expect to gain from it? Too often, we see companies, teams as well as individuals, who network just for the sake of it. There has to be a purpose to our networking efforts if we want to maximize the value we get out of it. If not, this can be one of the major suckers of the resource that is so precious to all of us; time.
Government funding of basic science has long been regarded as the foundation of the technological economy and thus an investment that returns far more in economic growth and other benefits than it consumes. Mr. Ridley says no, this is all wrong. The returns on publicly funded R&D are negligible. Patents and Nobel Prizes are “fundamentally unfair things.” When a government pays for scientific research, it actually harms science itself by crowding out the “good” science that corporations and philanthropists would otherwise fund on their own.
“Innovate or die” has become almost a mantra for companies in this era of rapid technological change and globalization. When we consider such conditions as extreme air pollution in Beijing, factory collapses in Bangladesh, drought in California, and deadly heat waves in India, the darker side of this foundational belief stands out in high relief. Yet we continue to settle for and cling to consumption-based business models that add to these global threats. Many large companies have survived and thrived for decades by selling high-calorie, sugary drinks or distributing apparel made by people working in extreme poverty for unfair wages in unsafe conditions.
Do you actively express interest in wanting to know more about something? Are you constantly testing your campaigns to uncover trends and patterns? Do you find yourself asking a lot of questions? People that are curious by nature tend to fall into this category. And they're often the kind of person you want on your team, representing your company, and building out your brand. Why? Because they work hard, they learn, become more efficient, and ultimately solve problems -- both for themselves and for the customer.
I study disruptive technology, specifically innovative technology that gains so much momentum that it disrupts markets and ultimately businesses. In the past several years, disruptive technology has become so pervasive that I’ve had to further focus my work on studying only disruptive technologies that are impacting customer and employee behavior, expectations and values and affecting customer and employee experiences.
One of the most common excuses we hear from folks who are reluctant to embrace innovative thinking is that they "are not creative" or not "right-brain thinkers." We like to gently remind them that the ability to think innovatively is in fact a learned skill, and can be improved with rigorous practice. In fact the old myth of right-brain versus left-brain predominance is incorrect. New technology is allowing researchers to begin to identify the brain processes and structures that are involved in creativity: While there are still many unknowns, evidence points to it as a combination of several cognitive processes instead of just one.
Frugal innovation is associated with resource-constrained and low-income emerging economies such as those of Africa, India, and China, but we have recently seen the rise of frugal innovation efforts in developed nations including the U.S. and in Europe. These are not primarily cost-cutting measures, a response to financial constraint or a tepid economy. Rather, across the developed world, companies are beginning to use frugal innovation as a growth strategy.
Over the past several years, we have compared successful and unsuccessful innovation teams in a dozen global organizations. One of our key findings was that teams functioning more like machines – blindly following highly defined processes and execution plans — were the least effective at achieving their goals and coming up with innovations. The most successful teams, on the other hand, operated less like highly efficient machines and more like ant colonies.
Exciting as it may seem, when you get down to it, creative work can be a grind. It requires chair time, focus, sitting through the discomfort of uncertainty, and resisting the temptation of countless distractions coming at you from all directions. "I don’t kid myself into thinking that it's supposed to feel good all the time," says Gilbert. "One of the delusions people have is that creativity is supposed to be a fun life. A lot of the work is very tedious."
No matter how popular and beloved your brand may be, its survival depends on your organization’s ability to adapt. Postmortems on companies like Blockbuster Video and Borders Books have pointed to issues with organizational structure, capabilities, and technology. But at the center of those corporate demises is the failure to innovate. Through more than a decade of innovation training with the world’s top organizations, I’ve isolated five innovation nightmares that, if course-corrected early enough, don’t have to result in imminent doom.
Perhaps we ought to take a deeper look at how Uber might expand into different industries and become a frontrunner in the on-demand economy (ODE).
Innovation calls us to do the impossible: to build for a future we can't yet see. The very notion of innovation is riddled with paradoxes. It asks us to embrace wildly different--even contradictory--ideas at once: creativity and pragmatism, foresight and hindsight, breakthrough visions and incremental change.
“Innovation is one of the main buzz words in business today with 80 percent of CEOs saying it’s the most important thing for their business, but only 10 percent say they are any good at it.” John Coyle, Maddock Douglas. Maddock Douglas has isolated common hurdles and pitfalls that predominantly account for this cavern between the stated innovation priority and tangible outcomes.
Our whole understanding of innovation is changing; there are numerous shifts occurring. We are opening up our thinking in where and with whom, to collaborate.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, research and development was a highly guarded and elite practice. Imagine laboratories peopled by white-coated scientists who had passwords to protect the doors to their office. This kind of research and innovation was highly successful for a long time – it gave us electrocardiography, DNA fingerprinting, and many Apple products. But with the advent of the internet and online collaboration, things like intellectual property, organizational boundaries, and the identification of new markets became a much more public and shared experience.
Success in innovation isn’t going to happen overnight, nor does it happen as a matter of chance. There’s nothing preordained about successful innovation. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the ultimate success or failure of your latest idea, but the basic formula that I’ve learned over the years is: success = idea + hard work + timing + luck.
Successful businesses grow. Through better products and processes, they win the favour of customers, increasing their volume and margins. That success often translates into further advantages as they invest in new and better equipment, develop expertise and gain bargaining power with suppliers. So it’s curious that so many successful businesses fail. Today, in fact, only 13% of the original Fortune 500 companies from 1955 are still around.
As I look to write on the topic of “Leading Innovative Change” within schools, we are looking to develop educators as innovators. To be innovative, you have to look at yourself as an innovator first, and to create schools that embody this mindset as a “culture”, we must develop this in individuals first.
When asked recently to name the one attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead, Michael Dell, the chief executive of Dell, Inc., replied, “I would place my bet on curiosity.” Dell was responding to a 2015 PwC survey of more than a thousand CEOs, a number of whom cited “curiosity” and “open-mindedness” as leadership traits that are becoming increasingly critical in challenging times.
No matter what profession you’re in, it’s important that you’re able to think creatively and look at your work with fresh eyes every day. Unfortunately, however, it may feel like a challenge to constantly be at the top of your game. The common question I get is “what exercises do you perform to keep your creative muscle in top shape?”. Here are the set of daily warm-up exercises I do to keep my creativity in top form.
High performing teams seem to generate their own energy and elevate everyone on the team to their full potential. Despite achieving more, work on these teams seems less taxing, the workday shorter and less frustrating. Low performing teams are plagued by dysfunction and produce more frustration than progress.
Developing a product can be different for every inventor, depending on their ideas and invention. There are continuously new trends in product development in each industry, due to technology, social media, manufacturing, marketing and more. All of these factors play a role in the development of a new product. Here are four new trends in product development that might fit your invention’s needs.
The last 50 years have seen at least five waves of innovation driven competitive challenges, always bringing the same dilemma together with the exploration enthusiasm. This is why new entities have often been more effective than large organizations in exploring new concepts, without any concern to protect existing revenue streams.
The question is: what keeps businesses from innovating effectively? The answer that I think most leadership teams want is: good ideas. After all, it's easier to explain away the lack of innovation if you can say that most teams lack good ideas. But a lack of good ideas is almost never the appropriate response to the question. Most companies teem with reasonably good ideas, and in some cases great ideas. No, the reasons that corporate innovation fails are many and varied, almost as differentiated as the number of industries and business models and management styles that are in evidence.
What’s the best way to change something? There’s no easy answer to this question – but if we’re trying to design changes in the way our organisations work, we need to have a deep understanding of what’s going on in them.
Now that just about every business seems to have realized that it is unlikely to survive, let alone flourish simply by doing what it has always done, the word “innovation” has become a standard part of the executive’s lexicon. Because of this – and the related fact that it means too many different things to different people – it has become something of a “motherhood” and “apple pie” issue. Just as it has become commonplace to talk of employees as “the greatest asset” and, latterly, as “talent,” so it is standard for companies to claim to be innovative. Even when they are serious about it, much of the discussion focuses on the mechanics of idea generation and exploitation – R&D pipelines, brain storming, market research and the rest – rather than what actually makes it happen.
Innovation has a lot to do with the scientific method and can be practiced scientifically. This statement may not chime well with people who believe it’s more of an art than a science; an inspirational “Eureka” moment where creativity is unconstrained and the driven genius launches the breakthrough market disrupter.
Playfulness is at the root of creativity. So why on earth have we created a corporate system where everyone feels the need to be so serious? I see time and again that injecting a sense of fun into work situations gives everyone permission to be more authentic and to take risks. Out of that comes greater innovation, more collaboration and richer learning.
The more diverse a person’s social network, the more likely that person is to be innovative. A diverse network provides exposure to people from different fields who behave and think differently. Good ideas emerge when the new information received is combined with what a person already knows. It’s really simple, interactions, not individuals, drive breakthroughs.
We need to react and become more responsive, becoming more adaptive to changing environments and business challenges, that are often unknown, unexpected, or not yet explored or exploited. Shifting to a different change model to meet the changing market conditions and customer needs will require a high level of transition; it needs us to transform our innovation management practice
I had an interesting discussion recently in which I heard arguments why big companies are not good at innovation and why this will not change in the future, which belongs to the more nimble and adaptive startups. Things will change and we will see that big companies will improve significantly on their innovation efforts in the next 3-7 years.
When you’re aimlessly browsing the internet, staring out your window, or wandering around the office, what are you thinking about? You might not even be able to put your finger on it, but chances are, when your hands and eyes are engaged in an activity that doesn’t require the full investment of your brain, you’re turning over something else in the back of your mind.
A main challenge for businesses of any size is adapting to change, how to embrace emerging technologies and adapt them to the day to day. From a big picture perspective, the simple fact is that the internet is disrupting every know industry; so adapt or die.
Did the headline of the post grab your attention? Did you think I was going to assert that dumb people are better innovators? Nothing of the sort. However, I think I can positively assert that bringing all of your knowledge to bear on a problem that needs innovation is often exactly the opposite of what you should do. Here's why.
Rowan states that if we unpack hundreds of cases of successful innovation, it turns out that there is a common signature to all of these big ideas. Time and again, visionary inventors and entrepreneurs came to their insights and discoveries not by sitting there waiting for a Eureka moment but by looking at the world from particular perspectives.
Everyone keeps talking about the size of the Internet of Things (IoT), which will connect anywhere between 20 million and 38 million devices by the year 2020 — depending on who you believe. But size isn't the issue, according to Gartner's Paul O’Donovan. He claims the real challenge is building a business model to make it the IoT worthwhile.
I have been spending some significant time on questioning the current innovation business model, from both the customers (clients) perspective and the innovation consultants’ one. For me, the process and management of innovation really does need to be definitely questioned.
The process of visioning may seem both daunting and mysterious. Indeed, it is in no way a straightforward method and there are always rocky rapids to navigate. An understanding of the make-up of this journey will create better results for this process to be a success.
Do you have a rival? Someone whose work makes you jealous? Or who you secretly want to beat at the next award show? When they do something that makes you wish you did it, do you throw out whatever you’re working on and start again? If not, find one. Your work might get better.
By definition, all advertising needs to “get” digital. Meaning it has to understand how we behave in the connected world. How we access and share content. How we expect instant access to anything we need. Brands, content, prices, entertainment, service folks, etc.
The open innovation challenge model has been widely adopted across the private sector, where it’s generally easier to implement solutions compared to humanitarian agencies who have different risks and hurdles to overcome. With so many different challenges and platforms out there, we were interested in how this model was being adapted in the humanitarian space.
We live in an age of change and uncertainty. For businesses, this means that only the most versatile survive —innovate or die. Simply adapting to the digital age is not enough: company survival requires explorative business strategies, to find new opportunities to improve and renew products and services. To attain explorative success you need a combination of both deliberate thinking and intuitive thinking. This article explores how you can balance the two.
Often we forget to frame what we want to really achieve in our innovation activity, instead we simply dive in and start innovating. I believe until we know what solutions we feel we need or the market wants, we will more often than not, end up disappointed in our innovation solutions. Simply generating ideas, for ideas sake, just does not cut it at all.
What is the main obstacle that stands in the way of sustainable long-term success for any business? I’d argue that it’s culture. A strong culture will recover from mistakes and figure out a way forward; while a weak one will never aim to evolve beyond what it already knows. With that said, let’s get this out of the way: you must build culture from the beginning.
Those of you who can remember old U.S. Supreme Court rulings will recognize the title. A Supreme Court justice, on ruling about pornography and when and where it could be published, recognized that in order to rule on its commercial availability, the court would have to define what pornography was. The justice was rumored to have said that he couldn't define it, but he knew it when he saw it. Unfortunately many corporations use the same approach to innovation. They expect great results, but don't know how to define what they want. In the absence of a destination, any road you take will get you where you are going.
Where do you set about to intervene and begin to change the organizations ability to innovate? There are seemingly so many intervention points it can get bewildering. The innovation environment can be made-up of how well you collaborate and network, the level of group and individual interactions, the presence and commitment of leadership towards innovation, as well as the organizational set-up and structures.
Innovation is a word that’s been heard on the lips of more CEOs, read in more broadsheet papers, and detailed in more business magazines in the last ten months than ever before. It’s well regarded that those businesses that fail to innovate risk death; consider the sad fates of longstanding companies like Woolworths, Polaroid, Blockbuster, and Borders over the last ten years. But how, as an individual, can you incorporate innovation and creative thinking into your everyday working life, all while keeping up with the already manic pace of modern business?
If you work in a big organization, small business, freelance, or eat cheese, there's a good chance you've participated in at least a few brainstorming sessions in your life. You've noodled, conjured, envisioned, ideated, piggybacked, and endured overly enthusiastic facilitators doing their facilitator thing. You may have even gotten some results. Hallelujah! But even the best run brainstorming sessions are based on a questionable assumption -- that the origination of powerful, new ideas depend on the facilitated interaction between people. You know, the "two heads are better than one" syndrome.
You can’t escape the reality that having the right environment for innovation means different things to different people. What we should be all able to agree upon is that the environment for innovation houses many of the conditions that connect innovation in people’s minds.
You know the company, in part because its name is synonymous with high-profile failure. Eager to ride the wave of a hot new technology, it participated in a controversial government-funding program, staged a flashy initial public offering, and plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into research and new factories that would create jobs, reinvent an ailing domestic industry, and help the environment. Then there’s this other company you may have heard about. Having spent nearly 15 years patiently developing an important new technology, it suddenly finds itself in the sweet spot of a megatrend. Here’s the thing. Both scenarios describe the same firm: A123 Systems. And therein lies a cautionary tale about how we judge success and failure.
There's really no easy way to say this, so I'll come right out with it. It's your culture that's holding you back when you try to innovate, but no one wants to admit that. Most consultants and executives want to focus on interesting innovation tools, or idea management software, or creative design concepts, because these are flashy and new, and distract attention from the real challenge at hand. Which is your culture. If culture "eats strategy for breakfast", what do you think it eats for lunch and dinner? Crazy innovation activities mostly.
Peter Drucker made the claim that the modern corporation has two real purposes: marketing and innovation. Everything else, he said, are costs. If Drucker was right, what does that say about most executives, who are busy managing costs? In effect Drucker is saying that they are ignoring the two most important functions of a business.
It’s really astounding how many people I meet who tell me, “I’m not creative” or “I wasn’t born an innovator.” How many times have you told yourself this story? No matter how convinced you may be that you are not creative or you were not meant to change the world, I believe that EVERYONE is a born innovator! The simple fact that you have grown up and learned how to be an adult in this world means you have already gone through a process of continual innovation – and creating something totally new is often a matter of recapturing that mindset.
Innovation has become a bit of a business buzzword. Every CEO and CIO worth their salt wants to be seen to be on the forefront, bringing new products and services to a market. However, it doesn’t always go to plan, and rushing in to things head first without the proper due diligence can land a company in hot water.
Crippled by knowledge and information, we too often live in a tomb of disenchantment. Too serious to dance in the rain, too cautious to build sandcastles by the sea, we are frozen by our own experience, expertise and fear. The art of innovation and of staying beginners is to empty our cups again and again, to remain childlike and playful with eyes always open and fresh.
The Nielsen report is based on a two year study examining over 3000 products launched in the US. It debunks conventional wisdom that new product success is random. Instead, it shows that success in new product innovation is repeatable and scalable when the science of innovation is applied.
By scouring the Web for interviews, videos, past profiles and more, we pulled insight from dozens of sources for each case study. Based on our research we were able to piece together what made these companies so successful—and in the process reverse engineer their growth engine.
Hacks. Sprints. Ideation sessions. People and organization use these structures to bring people together in order to come up with new ideas. I’ve organized hackathons and I’ve judged them. I run innovation and design workshops for the public and for private companies. Over the years I’ve come to a startling conclusion, one that has inspired me to start establishing a challenging design constraint for participants: Come up with as many creative solutions as you can but the solution may not be a Web site or an App.
The term is widely accepted to have been coined by Wired magazine in 2006, in an article analysing how businesses were beginning to outsource tasks, usually handled by an individual to a larger number of people, in the expectation it would gain faster results for a cheaper price. Since then, business use of crowdsourcing techniques has become more established. Crowdfunding, for example, has become a common way of raising funds, while Spigit Engage customers provide a great example of how businesses are applying crowdsourcing to the innovation process. However, such is the potential and power of ‘the crowd’, just how far can crowdsourcing be taken – not just in business, but society as a whole?
There is always a certain impact that innovation brings, it should change habits, alter perceptions, improve our lives or alter the way we work and think. Each change brought about by innovation does have different impact effects upon three important market constituents: customers, the markets and the industries themselves but also and often totally under-appreciated, internally on the innovator driving the change.
The future of innovation needs to change. Will you help make it happen? This is what I believe in. The future of innovation – and business – is driven by three global mega-trends: Everything moves faster, everything will be connected and there will be a much higher degree of transparency. Thus, we need a different approach on innovation. Here you have my current thoughts (work in progress) on this.
Based on mixed results linking both mindfulness and its opposing construct mind wandering to enhanced creativity, we predicted that the relationship between mindfulness and creativity might depend on whether creative problems are approached through analytic strategy or through “insight” (i.e., sudden awareness of a solution).
Creativity is usually associated with open spaces, uninhibited freedom, and a lack of anything to stifle expression. However, sometimes it can be beneficial, even essential, to build walls, make rules and impose constraints on ourselves in order to get our creativity flowing.
The fact is that unlimited options are very difficult to contend with – they keep us staring at the proverbial blank page. Our minds need some guidance; if there are no rules or restrictions in place, it’s hard to begin the creative process and even more difficult to remain focused or purposeful.
We often constrain our innovation because we ‘shoe horn’ any conceptual thinking into a given time, usually the yearly budgetary plan, so it dominates the actions decided and can exercise a large influence in this constraining of ideas to realization.
We should make the case that different types of innovation operate and evolve over different time horizons and need thinking through differently.
We have three emerging horizons that need different treatment for innovation.
Prepare the perfect elevator pitch now, so when someone inquires about your invention, you can impress them with your knowledge and eloquence.
In order to innovate successfully, a company must innovate and update its existing internal processes before trying to innovate products and services. Companies worry about the investment and time associated with developing a new product, concerned that customers won't accept or adopt a new product.
Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison did not invent the lightbulb. Twenty or so inventors and labs had already come up with similar designs when he patented his in 1879. What Edison really invented was affordable and accessible electric light.
Edison’s breakthrough was guided by a fundamental insight: any given product is only as powerful as the system in which it is deployed.
Every year 26 billion trees are cut down, roughly representing the area of England.
An interdisciplinary team from University of Oxford and Singularity University, has come together to create a new way to replant trees that can match the rates of industrial-scale deforestation. Their company, BioCarbon Engineering, intends to plant 1 billion trees a year globally.
Some companies attempt to inspire bursts of creativity using crazy perks, but there’s an often-overlooked strategy for fueling long-term inspiration: creative discomfort. An environment of discomfort contributes to creativity by breaking people out of their normal thought patterns, encouraging original thinking and risk-taking.
Many companies plough money into innovation projects without a clear strategy for their overall portfolio. Here is a method which gives a framework for sorting and reviewing our innovation initiatives.
If you look up the Merriam-Webster’s definition, it says that innovation is “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.” However, in a world of continuous technological and ideological advancement, how much is really new? The truth is we are creative beings, but we don’t create alone. While some will try to make the claim of being the sole creator of an innovation, the majority of our ideas are inspired by things and processes already in existence.
This is true of one of history’s most important innovations: Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line. This innovation has changed countless industries by altering the universal production process and it came from an unlikely source.
There’s comfort in numbers, so it’s easy to go along with the crowd. However, crowds are often stupid. Simply going along with them can lead us horribly astray.
In the 1950’s, Solomon Asch, a prominent psychologist at Swarthmore College, conducted a series of conformity experiments that shed light on our capacity to go along with the crowd. The design of the study was simple, but ingenious.
When you're ready to make or introduce a change in your organization, how do you tell employees about it? Or do you?
We know that stories are not only a powerful communication vehicle but also an important teaching tool. Stories allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages people, inspires them, and helps them understand a desired or intended outcome as a result of a series of steps or actions taken. So it's not surprising that stories become an important tool in your communication toolbox.
Langdon Morris examines five forces of change: technology, science, culture, the human population and climate change. The convergence of these five trends largely defines the modern world and the market environment to which we must adapt and respond. Understanding them will set the framework for the choices you will have to make, and the processes you will implement in order to create and implement your own organization’s innovation process.
I acknowledge and applaud those who have chosen to stand up for change. I support, and many times agree with, what is being espoused—but sometimes I see the freedom of digital speech go wrong. Too many times blogs begin with a discussion about an important or interesting topic but the post quickly goes south when all eyes are made to focus on the person writing the article and not the topic at hand. These individuals want to be labeled the new, cool term “disruptor” and be regarded as those who go against the grain. There’s even a group that calls itself Disrupt, comprised of individuals (many are bloggers) who waive their disruptor banner proudly.
Inside established organization innovation is killed before it even gets a chance to make its case. The reasons are many, and while there are many Sins of innovation,from my POV the one that kills most projects focused on transformational outcomes are ones where there needs to be a fixed “process” for achieving those outcomes.
On one hand the American university and collegiate system is perhaps one of the finest in the world, drawing students from many countries and cranking out many exceptional graduates. On the other hand, I'll assert, it is failing our students and our economy miserably, because the educational system is rote, designed for a production age when we are clearly in an informational and innovation age, does not encourage risk taking or experimentation, and is far too comfortable and complacent, far too unwilling to change.
I received an interesting newsletter from Marshall Goldsmith today, about being the optimist in the room. He says, "When people initiate a personal campaign to improve themselves, there is a high probability they will fail. At some point early in the game or near the finish line, most people will abandon their campaign to get better."
Many people have no clue what kind of schedule works for them for the simple reason that they've never had the opportunity to figure it out. But especially if you do creative work, you might want to take the time to determine what is best for you.
Your greatest innovation opportunity may be right in front of you. The problem is you don’t see it. Every day for the last decade of your life this problem has annoyed and frustrated you. Its solution is worth billions of dollars and would open up a totally new market. The problem is, like the millions of other people who have this problem, you don’t think of it as a problem anymore. You’ve been desensitized. You’ve lost your ability to innovate because of something called habituation.
I just returned from Africa, where P2P money-swapping via mobile phones is ubiquitous. The primary form of banking for most families is Savings and Credit Associations (SACCOs) that are formed by groups of villagers in every community. People put in a few dollars each week, and borrow money at interest from the kitty when they want to buy a pig or fix their roof. At the end of each year, the profits are distributed out based on the amount each person has saved/invested. This tried and true model has been flourishing for decades in third world countries.
Before large corporations seek to emulate the scrappy creativeness of startups, it is vital for leadership to understand the four key ingredients that make startups hot houses of innovation but also fundamentally different from established firms. All these factors and the spirit of innovation that goes along with them should be encouraged, not squashed.
Celebrating success and discouraging failure is a familiar binary for most, but what would happen if a business decides to reverse that paradigm? What if we celebrated failure, and discouraged dwelling on our successes? This may seem completely counterintuitive and many would balk at such a consideration, but consider this: how often has a given company released a successful product only to find itself shuffled into irrelevancy a few years down the road?
For me, innovation has eight possible pitfalls or sink holes that we need to consciously try to avoid. Some are in our hands, others are clearly out of our hands but all we can do is try to be aware of them so we can avoid them the as best we can. We sometimes need to be more prepared for these traps based on our judgement and experience.
If you’re a successful company, you’re probably not used to innovation. You’re used to being good at what you do, and that’s the opposite of innovation. Smart innovation that evolves a new and marketable product often requires an innovation partner. There are a lot of reasons for that. But they boil down to a deceptively simple concept: Two heads think better than one.
From my perspective, the focus on “test scores” results is a system that generates the worlds greatest test takers — where success is defined by memorization of facts and formulas. Graduates that memorize yesterdays’ answers using yesterdays technologies will not be the workforce for tomorrow’s innovation economy. I didn’t want what the education system was producing. I need an organization staffed by highly innovative individuals who will have the skills to solve problems we don’t even know exit using technologies that haven’t been invented yet.
Know your customers, understand new technologies, embrace failure, then take a leap of faith. Consumers are incredibly poor predictors of the next big thing. Their knee-jerk reaction to new technology is almost always to say they don’t need it and will never use it. For many company leaders, this creates a significant business challenge: They know they must drive change to stay competitive, yet they have no way to determine with confidence which moves will be successful.
Microsoft recently announced it would cut thousands of middle management jobs to ease the flow of information and decision making, ‘no longer respecting tradition but only innovation’. This move illustrates how large corporations are starting to realise that by engaging a huge swathe of the workforce, they can harness this collective innovation brainpower to solve challenges and find the next ‘big idea’. Crowd-sourced creativity has gained serious traction; even the NHS has challenged its workforce to find novel ways of improving patients’ experiences.
It might happen while you’re taking your morning shower, or maybe you’re in the middle of your morning commute when a flash of creativity strikes: a great idea for a mobile app, a way to hack your Ikea bookshelf to solve a pressing storage problem or a brand new business idea. Why does it seem like our best ideas come when we are doing absolutely nothing?
We are all making innovation far too complicated, and we need to stop dressing up the activity with lots of talking points and stop working ourselves and our management into a tizzy about commitments and investments. Of course all of these are important. But what we should be asking, in much the same way the "lean startup" folks are asking about bare essentials and "minimum viable products", is: what is the minimum investment it takes to make my (team, product group, line of business, company) more innovative? I'm going to argue that it's simply three "T"s: time, talent and temperament.
With so much focus on establishing corporate innovation incubators and accelerators, more attention needs to be paid to maintaining effective employee connections back into the business units that will support the newly formed ideas.
Imagine you asked two teams to tackle the same challenge, and the groups came back to you with entirely different proposals. Would you instinctively green-light the one that seemed more promising? Or would you allow both teams to play out their approaches for some time (maybe even years) before deciding how to proceed?
Successful leaders of innovation would make the second choice.
China is undergoing a revolution in the realm of IP and innovation. In just 3 decades, China has gone from no IP law to leading the world in patents filed and litigation to enforce patents. The level of innovation in China may well be the next big surprise for many in the West.
There are still large swathes of businesses which remain untouched by the Open Innovation initiative. They refuse to join the bandwagon. The leaders of these organisations pay lip service to open innovation and claim that their people are open to outside ideas and collaboration but the reality is very different. There appear to be a number of very real impediments.
After my "don't rock the boat" post a few days ago, I was asked by a few folks a very interesting question. Which was: what does it take to be a good innovator in a corporation? Note that I placed some scope or constraints on the question. After all, it's fairly easy to be an innovator in a small company or as an entrepreneur. In fact you need to rock the boat in small companies or startups or you will struggle to differentiate and grow. But what about large companies? What does it take to be a successful innovator in a large corporation? Either a culture that welcomes and encourages innovation or a true believer mentality.
The 7 Deadly Sins are mortal sins (as opposed to minor sins) and are considered to be the root of all other sins. If you commit these sins, failure is certain. Are there more than seven sins in customer experience? Yes, probably. But I think these are the most egregious; if you are guilty of these, you won't successfully transform the customer experience for the better.
Aristotle noted something about his fellow humans. He said that "you are what you repeatedly do". He recognized that the more we do certain things, the more we followed certain norms, the more they influenced who we are and how we look at the world. This is interesting in itself, but troubling from an innovation standpoint. Because if we are what we repeatedly do, we'll never innovate. If we are what we repeatedly do, we're all efficiency managers, not innovators. That could explain a lot about the barriers innovation faces in large corporations.