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The whole issue with innovation is that we can’t know in advance if it’s going to work or not. If we know it will work, it’s not innovation, it’s just a financial decision. Many of the struggles that people have with innovation comes from this – we want certainty. But if we’re going to innovate, we must actively seek out uncertainty.
Whether innovation benefits the masses or just the elites has major policy ramifications. If the later, shouldn’t government insure a fair division of the economic pie? And is the patent system critical for economic growth or a tool for the powerful to plunder the helpless?
We all need to recognize the type of innovation leadership personality within our organization, the ones we are working for, as this might help you manage the innovation work a whole lot better and attract in the resources you need.
Many people are confused as to what provides the initial "spark" for innovation, what creates energy and passion to conduct innovation work. The answer is simple: a need.
Unfortunately for Apple, one of the downsides of its visibility is that the company has turned into a target for patent trolls. In fact, Apple—a top target of the patent trolls—has faced 92 lawsuits in three years. Patent trolls are companies whose only business is suing over patents. The goal of these businesses is to “squeeze the patents to their maximum revenue potential in licensing fees.”
As innovators that want to make things happen and are constantly seeking ways to counter resistance to change. It comes with the territory and is the most predictable challenge we will encounter. There are many common sources of resistance to change inside organizations and from potential customers: inertia, indecision, fear of making mistakes, lack of best practices and lack of care for your product/service. How do you overcome them?
Innovation is doing different things. Going into new territories. Using new techniques. It is a paradox for most of us. On the one hand you are well aware that you have to take new roads before you reach the end of the present dead end street. On the other hand it is risky. It takes a lot of time and resources. Research shows that only one out of seven innovation projects is successful. So saying yes to innovation is a risk.
Innovation has happened, it is happening, and it will happen, as long as there are problems to solve or needs to be addressed and a market that is willing to reward the inventor or innovator for their troubles. Almost all of the advancement in human history is due to innovation - in agriculture, in societies, in medicine, in technology and in education. Rather than doubt the power of innovation, review human history and see the impact of innovation across centuries.
The brainstorm is the most popular group creativity exercise in business. It is quick, easy and it works. But many organizations have become frustrated with brainstorms and have stopped using them. They say brainstorms are old-fashioned and no longer effective. But the real reason for the frustrations is that their brainstorms are not facilitated properly. A well-run brainstorm is fun and energetic. It will generate plenty of good ideas. But a poor brainstorm can be frustrating and demotivational. Let’s look at some simple ways to ruin your next brainstorm meeting.
There is no question the Stage-Gate process has had a significant impact on the conception, development and launch of new products. Yet there have been consistent criticisms of it, as the world of innovation has moved on. Today it is faster-paced, far more competitive and global and become less predictable.
For a long time I've wondered if we don't pay far too much attention to the obvious aspects of innovation - brainstorming, ideas, trends, etc - and pay far too little attention to the connective activities and culture that moves ideas through an integrated workflow. It's easy to focus on and celebrate activities and definitive results.
We need to think differently about innovation and why it needs complexity and adaptive thinking as part of its design. Complexity within systems challenge us to think differently, it pushes us to think outside often our normal experiences, to confront and understand and then restructure, often the unordered, into a new ordered. Organizations are in need of understanding the complexities within their systems far more.
Most big ideas have loud critics. Not disruption. Disruptive innovation as the explanation for how change happens has been subject to little serious criticism, partly because it’s headlong, while critical inquiry is unhurried; partly because disrupters ridicule doubters by charging them with fogyism, as if to criticize a theory of change were identical to decrying change; and partly because, in its modern usage, innovation is the idea of progress jammed into a criticism-proof jack-in-the-box.
From my experience, it seems that everyone thinks about innovation, but they think about it in very discrete, disconnected ways. R&D folks think about innovation as creating a new polymer. Marketing folks think about innovation as changing a marketing channel or delivering a new product. Finance folks think about innovation as driving new revenue or perhaps modifying a business model. What very few people think about are the knock-on effects, consequences and series of events that are required to unfold when you innovate.
Companies depend on the ability to innovate in order to remain competitive. Traditionally, we consider innovation to involve fun and creativity. However, innovation can be hard work requiring both a willingness and an ability to generate ideas.
What kind of action can you take, today, to advance your dream? What action can you take today to make real your invention, your new business idea, or art project?
Every company should dedicate a portion of its innovation portfolio to the creation of new growth through disruptive innovation. But companies need to think carefully about who makes the decisions about managing the investment in those businesses. If the people controlling the purse can’t afford to lose a bit in the short term, then you simply can’t ask them to invest in anything but close-to-the-core opportunities that promise immediate (albeit more modest) returns.
List of tips and suggestions designed to provoke different thinking patterns in your brain to help you think unconventionally.
...we have this huge gap between those ‘working’ innovation and those at the top simply not engaging with innovation or still failing to understand it or even failing to connect the dots. That growing gap at the top in what they need to do to make the connections both inside and outside the organization to manage the changing landscape. One that still suggests we have this consistent failure to align the strategic and innovation activities and provide a more balanced orientation in the mapping to different horizon thinking that is needed. It seems perspectives are totally out of whack.
In many philosophical circles, the mantra behind much of the belief system is that you are what you (think, eat, do, believe). In dietary circles, you are what you eat. Is it also the case that you "are what you innovate" or is it often the other way round? I think in many cases we actually "innovate what we already are".
Even in our money-driven society, the power of money has limits: there are certain things money can’t buy. Love and happiness come to mind first, but a popular list of things that can’t be supposedly bought with money is much longer and includes such items as “25-hour day,” “clear conscience” and (my favorite) “an honest politician.”
When you ask Executives what they want beyond short profit and revenue growth they’ll likely say ‘more innovation’. Why? Because they face unprecedented business challenges. Let’s look back. The current modern corporation was invented about 100 years ago – at the start of the 20th century. That’s when the big companies were born like the US railroad companies, US Steel, the big banks, IG Farben. Some exist still today (GE).
A 2012 study by the Harvard Business Review surfaced several interesting findings about the practice of innovation for the enterprise, including the innovation ambition matrix, which details how “firms that excel at total innovation management simultaneously invest at three levels of ambition, carefully managing the balance among them.”
Companies have added innovation to their company values and mission statements in accelerating numbers. Some organizations have implemented idea management systems. And others are willing to spend large sums of money on design firms and innovation boutique consultancies to get help designing some new widget or service to flog to new or existing customers. Based on all of that you would think that most companies are committed to innovation, right?
Like weeds in a green lawn, people who are “different” — whether behaviorally or neurologically — don’t always fit into standard job categories. But if you can arrange working conditions to align with the abilities of such individuals, they can add significant value.
For as much talk and examples of innovation are discussed, most organizations haven’t gotten the message. And frankly they never will because it goes against human nature. Here’s the message for you: Innovation is not additive, it is subtractive.
Innovation policy is about the challenge of contributing to the wide objectives such as employment, sustainability and economic growth. How to approach such a task? The answer is simple but the effort complex: Aim for a strong innovation eco-system. Referring to the case of the IMP³rove Euromed Project the article suggests four systematic steps on how to establish an effective, innovation inducing eco-system.
As innovators, we should be detectives, asking ourselves, what critical components for innovation success does this client lack? I've listed a few critical components for innovation success below. If you are starting an innovation project, make sure they exist and are fully supported. If you've "failed" at an innovation activity, perhaps this is a good "post mortem" to find out what went wrong.
3M is one of the most innovative companies in the world. Each year, their target is to have more than 30% of their revenue come from products that are less than four years old. To do this, they must constantly come up with new stuff. To find this new stuff, they spend about 6.6% of their annual revenue on Research & Development. The average large US corporation spends less than 2% of revenues on R&D, so 6.6% is a whole lot. But think about this for a second – what is 3m spending the other %93.4 of their money on? The rest of the money goes to executing ideas that they’ve already had.
Open innovation has always been centered on new product development. Firms source external knowledge from technology and market partners to speed up product launches and to get access to complementary technologies. The open innovation funnel has been used time after time to explain open innovation, implicitly assuming that open innovation is always related to new product development.
After years of Right Sizing, Six Sigma, Lean, BPR and other management fads dedicated to improving processes, eliminating waste and improving efficiency, it can be a real struggle to try to introduce innovation. The operating models, what I called "business as usual" resists change, uncertainty, variance and risk.
I think this a question many executives are asking themselves, and undoubtedly are looking for a silver bullet answer. My answer?
First, let’s get a few things out of the way… innovators share some common characteristics.
In a July 2010 TED Talk, Johnson describes important breakthrough ideas as networks that patch together slowly, sometimes lingering in the backs of minds for decades until the right intersection of circumstances reveals them. Johnson suggests connection and collaboration produce the right intersection of circumstance.
In his research, Johnson examined environments, looking for patterns common among places where great innovations were developed. What kind of setting would best serve a slow fading-in of important ideas? In his studies, he found that a certain amount of chaos was common to several birthplaces of great ideas. Specifically, when multiple minds gathered and volleyed ideas back and forth, the stage was set for breakthroughs.
We often think of innovation as problem-solving. One mistake in this approach is to place all of your focus on the solving part, and not enough on the problem.
Finding better problems is actually a key innovation skill. And you find better problems by asking better questions.
In the recent months two significant technological driven disruptive events have happen that could bring about the downfall of two of Singapore’s largest corporations. Singtel, or Singapore Telecoms, is the first and biggest Telco (they own all the infrastructure) and Comfort one of the largest taxi operators in this island nation.
The main challenge for any innovator is idea adoption. So, it’s important to understand both how ideas spread and what motivates people to adopt those ideas. So, how does an innovation spread?
The failure rate is high but the fixes are simple and intuitive. In this two-part article series Paul Wagorn, President of IdeaConnection draws on his extensive experience of open innovation to discuss the problems with OI portals and how they can be remedied.
Connecting to a world of knowledge has never been easier. The ability of the Internet to harness expertise from all parts of the planet in a wide range of fields is allowing companies to augment their talent base with the knowledge, skills, experiences and points of views of others.
Unlike books written by consultants about how wonderful the companies they study are, and how they have reverse engineered their formula for success into repeatable soundbites, Creativity Inc. was written by someone who was in the trenches; from the beginning. Written by Ed Catmull, co-founder and President of Pixar, Creativity Inc. is a first hand tell-all about what enables Pixar to do its thing: successfully turn original ideas into blockbusters, one after another.
Mr. Catmull’s motivation for writing this book stemmed from a simple question: why do successful companies fail?
In response to a recent post of mine, Tobias Stapf on the Social Innovation Europe LinkedIn networking group, pointed me to a really good report “Innovation Is Not the Holy Grail” and I really have appreciate it. I wanted to draw out some useful learning from this report and useful reminders here in this post that there is no easy answers in innovation, social or business related.
The report outlines the difficulties of enabling innovation in social sector organizations. In this review the authors undertook exploring what enables organization capacity for continuous innovation in established social sector organizations, that operate at an efficient scale, delivering products and services.
The present briefing paper aims to inform policy-makers and other stakeholders about the open innovation model, and to draw their attention to certain recent trends related to its including its origins and evolution, contrasting it with the traditional approach to R&D. In addition, it explains this model’s attractiveness for businesses in light of changes in the innovation environment, and reviews prerequisites for successful collaboration. The second part focuses on the importance of strategic knowledge management in the context of open innovation. In particular, it shows how intellectual property rights (IPRs) can facilitate the sharing of technology and of know-how, thus supporting collaborative innovation.
Open Innovation, loosely defined as seeking solutions outside your company, can help a company dramatically increase its technology and product pipeline, but it is not without its challenges. In this article, we explore a major obstacle that can impede the success of an open innovation based project, and how to remedy it.
It was a triumph of crowdsourcing—for a nominal price, GE used the knowledge of someone they would have never otherwise met to innovate its way out a design problem. It was also a proof of concept for the engineering behemoth’s new innovation strategy. Under Immelt, GE has invested a sizable chunk of its annual $6 billion R&D funds into taking advantage of a simple, internet-enabled truth: Now, more than ever, it’s possible to connect with people around the world, so why not take advantage of that to solve some engineering problems?
How is it possible that IdeaConnection is able to put together a team of 5 people who don’t know each other to solve a problem that seems out of reach to a company’s 5000 dedicated researchers?
A look at what goes into IdeaConnection’s amazing success at solving some of the most difficult problems.
I have been recently revisiting Everett Rogers work on diffusion and adoptions and using Rogers rate of diffusion principles you can end up offering a fairly powerful positioning statement
Many companies have been engaging in crowdsourcing as a way of finding solutions to difficult technical problems. Some of these companies engage directly with the crowd, while others have used intermediaries or ‘expert networks’ who run crowdsourcing platforms as a product.
At least on paper, crowdsourcing seems like a great solution – put your problem out there, and wait for a solution from the masses. What many companies have discovered, however is that there are many unforeseen, even fatal difficulties they encounter while engaging in these crowdsourcing efforts. In some case these challenges completely eclipse the benefits, potentially resulting in an unfulfilled promise and a disillusioned corporate team who had both high hopes and high expectations.
I am going to discuss six of the main “gotchas”, and also offer some insight into the thinking that went behind the model that our company uses – it was purposefully built to resolve these problems and gets a lot closer to a platform that actually delivers on the promise.
Open innovation cannot be implemented in companies without the right organizational structure and processes supporting it. What are these organizational structures and processes that facilitate open innovation in companies? They determine the success of open innovation practices and, therefore, this theme clearly deserves more attention from managers. It is surprising that very few academic and professional articles have been written about this topic.
When I heard about “continuous deployment” at Etsy.com, the rapidly-growing billion-dollar online market that deploys more than 30 software improvements each day, my immediate reaction was that this must be a hellishly stressful place to work.
I was therefore surprised to learn that it is exactly the opposite. Continuous deployment was introduced not only to accelerate innovation but also to overcome excessive stress in the workplace and it has done both.
Delta Airways has just opened it’s ‘Innovation Class’ for business. If you haven’t heard of it, Delta’s idea is that as they already fly ‘some of the smartest people in the world’, these leaders could use this time in the air to share their knowledge with an up-and-coming professional in the seat next to them. So Delta has in fact created a ‘mile high’ mentoring program – giving innovators the chance to share a few hours with leaders in the field.
One of the keys to being an innovative organisation is culture. The way that people within our organisation interact has a big influence on are ability to innovate.
I often hear from people that their organisation has a “risk-averse culture.” When I do, I remind them that we create culture – through our own interactions every day. So if we want to change our culture, the first place to start is with what we do ourselves.
There’s a popular notion that innovation arrives like a bolt out of the blue, as a radical departure from previous knowledge—when really, most new ideas are extensions, twists, variations on what’s come before. The skill of generating innovations is largely the skill of putting old things together in a new way, or looking at a familiar idea from a novel perspective, or using what we know already to understand something new.
Our culture doesn’t ever rest. Instead, we live in a constantly calibrating and recalibrating ecosystem, even when surface impressions make it seem otherwise. Every day we live with and adapt to the incredibly complex social, cultural, environmental, political, and economic systems around us, and they adapt to us.
How then, can market researchers and wannabe innovators expect to capture who we are and why we do what we do with a single survey, a simple snapshot or any other sort of static lens.
In the last few years, brainstorming has been shot down, put down, and dismissed. Why?
Since 1941, when Alex Osborn changed the culture of advertising with innovative, nonjudgmental thought-generating, brainstorming has been a major part of business. Osborn described brainstorming as “a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members.” He included specific rules including:
- No criticism of ideas
- Go for large quantities of ideas
- Build on each others ideas
- Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas
Everyone’s creative. At least until they have it beaten out of them by education, rules, a pressure to succeed and the risk averse nature of most businesses. What’s equally discouraging is that too many people conclude that the labels are right. They come to believe that they reside among the non-creative. I can’t tell you how many account executives, media planners, product managers and clients have told me as a matter of fact that they are “not creative.”
This kind of thinking is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. If you think of yourself as not creative you’re far less likely to take chances. You become reluctant to put forth crazy ideas. You make too many decisions based on what others will think. You fall into the trap of striving to replicate past successes, which are no guarantee of future performance, or simply playing it safe.
However it’s even more damaging to companies and organizations who think this way as they not only define two classes of employee — creative and non-creative — they relegate the “creatives” — typically the designers, art directors and copywriters — to the playroom, leaving the big, important decisions to the operations and financial people. And we all know what a mistake that is.
"Public innovation isn’t necessarily about something shiny or new or complex, but about something that works better, leads to better results and creates a better pathway forward.
It is about how communities generate and re-generate themselves. For example, The Harwood Institute is working with partners in Battle Creek, Mich. – including the local United Way, Chamber of Commerce, Kellogg Community College, Project 20/20, BC Pulse and the city government. These entities are focused on addressing issues concerning vulnerable children in a way that altogether changes how they and others work together in the community.
Indeed, the very output from being innovative may be so simple that it hardly seems to be an innovation. Consider, for instance, the following example: innovation can involve changing the way we talk about a common concern in a community. Is the discussion framed in terms of “problems,” which usually degenerates into people pointing fingers and placing blame for what’s wrong in the community? Or is it about our shared aspirations for what we are trying to do right?
7 Growth Factors Driving Innovation
I recently attended the 2014 Open Innovation Conference in Baltimore along with a deep bench of senior executives from Intel, Amazon, Under Armour, Pfizer, Clorox and others. As an official social media voice for the event, I had an opportunity to track key themes across a content-packed 2-day program.
From this intense 48-hour window emerged core insights that offer benefit not only to Open Innovation (OI) mavens but those of us who navigate daily in the ‘Closed Innovation’ realm as well. In fact, I would estimate that 85% of the content of the conference applied equally to folks who walk the innovation walk inside their companies and never take on an OI role.
What remained astounding is that the OI executives I spoke with described themselves as operating at the bleeding edge of innovation. In their words, by participating in Open Innovation, they are daily risking career-ending failures.
They are enterprising innovators who are risking salaries and reputations to do what they do. In the words of Dr. Andrew Skulan, head of Partnership Practices at Clorox, “These undaunted executives “are planting a flag for open innovation, and we are going to drive it.”
- See more at: http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2014/03/19/the-bleeding-edge-of-innovation/#sthash.UXLvr5lI.dpuf
How to apply metrics to open innovation (OI)? That's the question we often get from our clients when they start to develop their open innovation capabilities. In order to provide an answer to this critical question, the following article will focus on the key findings of our Open Innovation KPI 2012 study. Based on this study, a metrics-based management toolkit has been developed, which provides the most relevant key performance indicators from the perspective of innovation managers, subject matter experts, and consultants.
I'm always a little cautious about any post that dares to state a definitive number of tasks or components for successful completion of any task. Therefore, it's with some trepidation that I'm going out on a limb to talk about what I think are six critical components for sustained innovation capacity. Note that I am saying six critical, not "the only six critical" because while I'm certain these are important, there are probably others that are just as important.
But, since most organizations don't have these critical capabilities in place, why worry about two or three others until the most important functions are in place.
The optimal balancing of radical and incremental innovation is becoming a Key Success Factor in many industries. Organizational ambidexterity is the approach to achieve this. With a best-in-class ambidextrous set-up, firms can become innovation leader.
Today, rather than paying for a daily newspaper, most people get their news for free online and many incumbent media businesses have begun erecting paywalls for their content. Yet, as I’ve said before, paywalls aren’t generally a smart way to go. Successfully implementing a paid platform requires a smart business model, not a moral crusade.
Although there is a tendency to 'throw' more money at developing talent we need to think through the basics first. If talent does not know the direction or the strategic scope it will have a hard time 'driving innovation'. We need to address the fundamentals first in organizations
If we think about innovation as executing new ideas to create value (and we should!), then it becomes clear that innovation is a process. There were some good posts about the different parts of that process this week – here are the ones that caught my attention.
Most likely you are in a traditional organization where management still rules the day, bureaucracy can’t stand in the way or enable innovation. Let’s imagine that you’ve talked about and agreed that innovation needs to become more than simple talk in your organization. To make this happen, you’ve decided to unleash the hounds: the passionate people who you’ve sat on the bench because of their fearless nature to now follow the rules.
Still, who among these mavericks can really push through?
While the quest for innovation as a source of future growth is a minimum common factor, among local and global enterprises, scholars and practitioners are yet to determine a common or universal definition of innovation: in fact because of the lack of consensus on the dimensions and measures characterizing innovation, we do mean different concepts when referring to innovation. However there are elements we almost all agree on.
The search for new business ideas and new business models is hit-or-miss in most corporations, despite the extraordinary pressure on executives to grow their businesses. Management scholars have considered various reasons for this failure. One well-documented explanation: Managers who are skilled at executing clearly defined strategies are ill equipped for out-of-the-box thinking. In addition, when good ideas do emerge, they’re often doomed because the company is organized to support one way of doing business and doesn’t have the processes or metrics to support a new one.
Leadership hates the concept of creativity. Why? Because it represents scary things like change, chaos, and risk, and, uh oh, those icky creative people. Leaders only want as much creativity as is needed to keep the business afloat. Maybe even a little less. They lie through their teeth when they say they want creativity. That’s the PC answer in a CEO survey. That’s creativity in theory. In the real world, in their own organizations — they really don’t want creativity. They really do want innovation but they’d like to skip the creativity step.
We fail to recognize all the capitals that perform in our organizations. Financial capital rules but the majority that make up the underlying knowledge capitals are actually far more valuable to nurture and understand.
In the past few years I have noticed a curious trend in the media -- one I can no longer ignore -- and that is the appearance of seriously derisive articles about brainstorming by self-declared pundits and freelance writers.
I asked myself a different question today: What do I believe about innovation but simply avoid saying to be politically incorrect? What am I not saying?
At the risk of being labeled a curmudgeon I’ve decided to state some things I believe to be true about innovation which may offend. Innovation is difficult and it doesn’t happen enough because of these eight impediments, so, this needs said.
Implementing open innovation requires a shift in mindset and a change in culture. It requires individuals to be open for external ideas and to share knowledge. This is not the way innovation is managed traditionally. For individuals to behave in a way that fosters open innovation, support from the top management seems to be crucial. Is this really the case? Or are top executives too far away from the action when it comes to innovation and open innovation?
Context is everything, it allows people to frame their thinking and direct their efforts. For innovation this is vitally important.
There are tasks we want to do that are reasonable to do and are practical to do. There are activities we want to do that are sensible but difficult to accomplish. Measuring innovation, which sounds important and reasonable, often falls in the second category. It sounds reasonable and important to measure innovation, but is often very difficult to do well. Sort of like measuring sand with a ruler, we may have the wrong tools, or the tools may not exist, or, quite possibly, there are some things we simply don't know how to measure. As Einstein said, not every thing that counts is countable, and not everything that can be counted counts. Let's look at some of the challenges in measuring innovation.
One of the reasons that only about 1/3 of all Fortune 1000 companies have formal innovation metrics is because this simple question does not have a simple answer.
Metrics can be important levers of innovation – for driving behavior, as well as evaluating the results of specific initiatives. Companies like 3M and Google have had innovation metrics for years – the most noteworthy that 10% of employees’ time is dedicated for experimentation with new opportunities. Some companies like 3M have tried to mandate that 35% of the corporations’ revenues should come from products introduced within the past four years.
Alignment is so important. When we align we are able to focus on the task, not what surrounds it. We spend disproportional time working on alignment, we must find ways to address this to 'release' the energy towards positive innovation needed.
A good way to start a brainstorm is to deliberately look for wrong answers. Set the challenge and then ask people to think of crazy ideas which are just plain wrong. Then take some of the more outrageous wrong ideas and kick them around. People will be outside their comfort zone and they will approach the original challenge from a new perspective. Each crazy notion can be provocative and stimulating. What is more each wrong answer is itself the answer to a different question. Sometimes these different questions are more interesting than the original challenge.
What questions should corporate innovators use to increase their odds of success? There are some classics out there, such as Peter Drucker’s (“If we weren’t already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?”), Ted Levitt’s timeless contribution (“What business are we really in?”), and the question Andy Grove asked to transform Intel (“If the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?”).
This is often the way new ideas come about. Someone sees a weak signal and amplifies it. The challenge with weak signals is that you can’t use the normal forms of proof to demonstrate that the idea is good.
When we invent the future, we are combining weak signals with existing ideas to reconceptualise products, services, ways of doing things, and entire markets. That’s more profitable than moving things forward incrementally, but also a lot riskier. Succeeding at requires vision, creativity and courage.
If you want your brainstorming sessions to bear fruit, be mindful of the time before anyone pitches even a single idea.
Because it's the few days before a brainstorm session begins -- the "incubation time" -- that's often the difference between brilliance and boredom.
Unfortunately, most companies don't get this.
If you could ask those that lead innovation, your senior organizational leadership, a series of question that might help unlock innovation blockages would that be valuable?
I just finished a week working with a team of 10 MBA students as part of collaboration with the Wharton Business School in their Global Consulting Practicum (GCP). They had to develop a proposal for our client, and get it signed off – this will guide the work that they do for the next four months.
They had a good week. They worked really hard, over long hours. They developed an excellent proposal, and the client loved it. They are set up to do a really good project.
However, now I know a bit how Doug felt. The team didn’t hit their top gear.
We talked about it on the last day, and I told them this. Unlike me in the mill, they agreed with me (or, at least, they appeared to!) If they find that top gear, they have a chance to not just do a really good project, but to do a great one.
Firstly I would argue that innovation, to be managed well, needs to operate like an ecosystem, the same as a tropical rainforest. Ecosystems to flourish need to experience critical feeds, in the rainforest this is high average temperatures and significant rainfall. Well innovation to thrive needs equal attention; it needs a real focus, above average and significant attention to be well maintained.
We argue for diversity within our innovation teams, in our thinking, in our environment and that is no different from the high levels of biodiversity in tropical rainforests. We need this ‘richness’ of thinking, of approaches, of discovery. We search constantly for ideas, we experiment, and we are subjected to change. We are always looking for that certain something still undiscovered.
Basically, a scientific paper by Richard Daft*, since cited over 1000 times, found organisational innovations trickle simultaneously upward and downward.
In a study of the way schools operate which concluded in 1972, where there are both teachers (the do-ers) and administrators (the managers), he found:
- For delivered innovations about teaching, 77% came from teachers, whilst only 16% came from administrators.
- For delivered innovations about school management, 75% came from administrators, whilst 16% came from teachers.
And for those astute enough to pick up the missing percentage point, those were accounted for by “collaborators”, a term applied to anyone who introduced something new that was neither a teacher nor and administrator.
99% of our clients are now struggling with innovation as their key challenge. Companies need to become asymmetric. They need to embrace the unexpected. They need to be able to cope with chaos, hyper-competition, uncertainty and change. They need to embrace ambiguity, disruptions and turbulence. They need to rehearse the future and serendipity is a big part of the scenarios. Optimisation is a given, not a distinctive feature any more. What set the standards in one market, sets the standard for all. Innovation and opportunity spotting will give you the edge.
I have two wonderful daughters. The oldest is 7 years old, and in many ways, she is the most prolific, efficient and successful user of open innovation that I know, and I think that there is a lot that can be learned from how she does this.
Almost every time that my daughter has a problem that she can’t quickly solve on her own, her first thought – her very first instinct – is to go external. She outsources the solution to her problem… to me, or to my wife.
But when you think about it, it’s an extremely efficient way of working. She might be going about her daily activities, when she then encounters some sort of problem. She thinks about it for a minute and realizes that she can’t solve quickly it on her own.
The call then goes out: “… DADDY!”
How the NFL Can Save the In-Stadium Experience through Digital Innovation
…Before it’s Too Late
Let’s face it, not every NFL franchise has the 12th man behind them, and yes, I happen to be a huge Seahawks fan, so before we go any further, #GoHawks! But last week, leading up to Wildcard Weekend, showed all of us a growing problem the vast majority of NFL franchises are experiencing – and it’s a big one.
- See more at: http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2014/01/11/football-needs-innovation-too/#sthash.v1KsECG1.dpuf
If you want to create a sustainable culture of innovation, you will need to understand that there are always four forces at work -- four currents that are always interacting with each other:
1. Top Down
2. Bottom Up
3. Outside In
4. Inside Out
...we risk creating what I'll call the Failure Fetish, the belief that we MUST fail in order to succeed in the future. Further, we risk creating a High Church of Failure, demanding that individuals and companies risk far too much and learn far too little. Today's story featured a serial entrepreneur with a PhD in vision sciences who has had two entrepreneurial efforts end prematurely. She is a 40 something mom with teenagers, a lot of debt and is considering mortgaging her house to try again. Entrepreneurs and innovators need to be single minded and risk averse, but they also need a rational outlook and a life!
For over two decades, I’ve wondered about how our small startup was able to out-innovate our Fortune 500 competitors. Up until now, I didn’t really understand why that happens so often.
We come once again to the end of a year, in which we look back and ponder the successes, near misses and absolute failures of the year just ended. As the calendar ticks over into a new year we are also confronted with the promise of an unspoiled new year, simply waiting with expectation for all the possibilities to unfold. As people who are both world wise and yet full of promise, we stand on the threshold of a new year recognizing that the failures and baggage from the year just ended could hold us back, trip us up in a moment of triumph, so we agree to shed all of the problems, issues, hangups, bad habits and phobias from the year just ended, to enter a new year fresh and full of promise. We agree to release ourselves from the mistakes and forgive ourselves for the "failures", and to learn from the mistakes but not be governed or cowed by them.
A culture that can protect trade secrets is vital for innovative companies. Such a culture becomes especially important in collaborative innovation efforts where failure to protect trade secrets can severely damage partners and the offending company’s reputation.
I came across an interesting article entitled 10 Great Inventions Dreamt up by Children. They range from earmuffs to crayon holders to an underwater talking device. The stories of their young creators are inspiring for anyone interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. The article begs some questions. Why are children so much more creative than adults? How does that creativity get crushed? What other great ideas do children have that are ignored?
How come that upper middle managers and entrepreneurs look at things in different ways? The answer lies partly in their personality types. It is known that certain personality types work better in certain situations than other. This is also valid for the innovation area, as Bengt Järrehult describes below.
Creative people have messy brains. Their imaginations are messy. Why? Because they don’t want to throw anything out. Why don’t they want to throw anything out? Because they believe on some level that there is always something of interest or value in whatever they encounter.
The way to get creative is by breaking a routine, like doings things you would never do so those unconventional ideas come to the fore. You do that by reading stuff you normally would not read, by visiting places you would not go to, by hanging out with people who are not like you.
That is one part of the equation, with an added observation that you should be mindful about what you read, see, hear, smell, taste and feel. The next part of the equation is to do something with that new knowledge.
The benefit that entrepreneurs have over corporate innovators is that they must support and sustain only one idea. An entrepreneur should have one really good idea or invention and place all of his or her effort behind that idea. A corporate innovator should similarly place all of his or her effort behind an idea, but must confront the fact that there are hundreds of other existing products and services demanding attention and investment, as well as dozens of other potential ideas or avenues to pursue. This prioritization and resource allocation issue is one of the reasons that corporate innovation is so much more difficult that mere invention or becoming an entrepreneur.
Innovation environments require moisturization. You can have the excellent people, the right resources, an amazing product or service idea, and a rigorous innovation process — and still fail. Your organization might appear to be ideally suited for innovation, but under the surface might be slowly drying up.
We have too few processes and models that can help companies that want to embrace open innovation. There is the “Want-Find-Get-Manage” model as developed by Gene Slowinski, but that is about it.
This needs to change and I have begun developing a model on how companies can embrace open innovation. It is based on these 7 steps:
Ever wonder how your company stacks up in terms of open innovation adoption, practices, and maturity? Earlier this year, the tenth anniversary of the publication his landmark book Open Innovation, Henry Chesbrough teamed up with Sabine Brunswicker of Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering to publish results of what is likely the first large-scale quantitative survey of the adoption of open innovation in large companies. The overall conclusion of their survey, entitled “Managing Open Innovation in Large Firms,” is that open innovation is on rise.
If you think about astronauts, you might recall the famous book, later turned into a movie. That book was The Right Stuff. It celebrated the early astronauts, most of whom were "fly boys", test pilots. These guys seemed to have less fear, more interest in testing the limits, and were volunteers. These characteristics are also vital for innovation. When you are likely to disrupt existing processes and practices, you need to have a much higher risk tolerance, and you should be a volunteer.
Many large companies take a tortoise approach to innovation and stay as hidden within their shells as possible, even some who advocate open innovation. Tortoise companies may have creative R&D staff, including many scientists doing good work, but they keep these inventors hidden in the shell rather than encouraging them to publish or present their work.
I recently sat down with Don Creswell, cofounder and principal consultant at SmartOrg, to discuss the role of innovation strategy these days and just how critical it has become for businesses to grow.
When it comes to successful innovation execution, companies face some big hurtles, according to Creswell, Specifically, there tends to be a lack of consistent process or a too rigid a process; along with the inability to tolerate failure.