Fresh combinations of technologies, processes, materials, people, trends, concepts, and other factors are what creates innovation. It’s interesting that large organizations with lots of intellectual property don’t systematically examine what they can combine to innovate. It’s a big missing, and, an opportunity to improve.
I’ve been touting concept blends in innovation for some time. My reason is simple, it’s a fast path to new and different ideas. From the Printing Press to the iPhone, big new market-creating innovation happens when concepts from two different domains are combined. These Mash-Ups are not intuitive for most people to do and maybe that’s why some people try it and fail. Take heart, smart people can do concept blends with careful mental scaffolding.
To say the least Mash-Ups hold great promise in helping people and organizations find useful and sometimes breakthrough innovations. Mash-Ups, put simply, are combinations. In innovation work the desire in doing a Mash-Up is to get to that wonderful fresh snow of new thinking. It’s new thinking that creates new products and services. When solving a complex business challenge it’s difficult to get to that lovely off piste mental space where nobody has ever been before. It certainly doesn’t happen in most brainstorming sessions. Mash-Ups, in its various permutations, is a power tool and a fast path for combining disparate elements to creatively problem solve. Mash-Ups can indeed get you to that elusive fresh thinking that leads to innovative solutions.
An essential ingredient to successful innovation projects is good facilitation. Who could argue with that? Innovation combines individual and group activities. Good group collaboration is not a given. Even individual activities need coordination with the group effort. You really need an inspiring, confident, well-trained facilitator to enable innovation.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Do you assume that broadband web access is nearly universal? It’s not. Millions of rural Americans have no, or quite poor, web access. Our government allocated part of the 2.9 billion in the stimulus package (The American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009) to solve this problem. For many, probably most rural Americans — this had no impact at all. This inequality of access has the USA ranking 26th in the world. In Internet access! And we’re slipping.
This does not bode well for USA innovation.
Why does it take a near death experience to wake some companies up?
I guess there is an innovation equivalent to a drunk hitting bottom. If only the drunk could see where they are headed — maybe they could avoid the hard fall into the gutter.
Case in point: General Motors. GM hit bottom, and, the good news, they’re in recovery.
The lesson here is not to wait until you’re bankrupt to innovate. It’s a simple point but profoundly difficult for some organizations to do. It’s a culture thing. If the culture doesn’t encourage and implement exciting innovation, they are that drunk headed for the gutter. Is that your organization? Take steps, and drastic ones, now, if that’s the case.
I believe that one of the most fundamental choices a human being can make relates to creativity. The choice is: do I wish to be a creative person or not. It would seem to be a no-brainer, but it’s interesting that at least half of people I talk to make the choice to Not be a creative person.