Written by Xylus Sand
Being responsible for creating innovative ideas in a management consulting company and moreover, trying to turn those ideas into products that can be monetized – I have come to some conclusions about what is necessary for innovation to take root. This applies to the world of open innovation as well as the world of controlled innovation. (Although I often wonder – can you control innovation? Heck – can you even manage it – I like the idea of herding cats – you have to do it for clients, I suspect you have to do it for innovator creatives as well.)
Resource #1: People
There’s no way around it – if you don’t have the PEOPLE with the creative minds and the capacity to explore – you’re going no where fast on the innovation superhighway. Like that? Information Superhighway? Innovation Superhighway? I’m going to claim to be the founder of Innovation now – just like our esteemed nobel laureate. No but seriously – think of innovation as being like a car from the Flintstones – if Barney and Fred don’t get in their and do some fast footwork, the car isn’t going anywhere.
Resource #2: Time
Ok, so you’ve got your bevy of creative class kinda people – (and yes, for all you grammarians – I know kinda is not a word – move along there, nothing to see) – what now? Well – let’s give them a NOW – too often organizations, groups, companies, government agencies, non-profits, NGOs etc. do not allow their people TIME to think. Consider the 15% rule developed by 3M all those years ago which have led from Sandpaper to Post-It notes – did it work? Is 3M the kind of creative company that keeps creating new futures for itself? You decide, but I’m going to consider the value of the 15% rule and scream it from the rooftops.
Resource #3: Fearlessness
No getting around this – every new idea is a risk – people will struggle with it, shy away from it, run in terror, get queasy, etc etc etc. Risk is a necessary component of trying to create. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, accept that someone may not like you, may not like your idea, may not like what your idea means to their job – it’s a long list.
Resource #4: Mistakes
Failure is not an option – we’ve all heard it – NASA coined it – Project Managers try to enforce it – companies which they could flawlessly execute. We are however human. We make mistakes. Guess what – when we make mistakes we learn from them. Sometimes that means we won’t make the same mistake again. Sometimes it means we will create something unusual out of the mistake. Once again – I reference 3M – creators of an adhesive that turned out not to be very good for adhering. Oddly enough – when you stick some of that stuff on some paper, you get sticky notes. Otherwise known as Post-Its. Mistakes lead to discovery. What would have happened to human space flight if the earlier rocketeers had operated from the ground rule that “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”. So where are we again? PEOPLE need TIME to take RISKS in order to make MISTAKES so that they can learn.
Resource #5: Blurriness
You know those lines that you were supposed to draw inside of when you were a child – all the coloring books had them – and then you come forward to the 80s or 90s where there’s a jeep commercial with a girl driving “outside the lines” – this commercial was particularly poignant because it suggest something – to get creative, you need to blur the lines – maybe even do away with the lines altogether. In the book the Medici Effect – the author references the idea of “low associative barriers”- and implies that this is a state we all need to get to – the point where we don’t allow traditional lines and routine directions to prevent us from seeing the new paths.
Resource #6: Support
To be successful at innovation, fearlessness is called for, but support comes right behind it. Even the most successful innovators have to have people in their corner. It could be a family member, it could be a coworker, it might be a boss. Support keeps the fearless innovator going when the road grows long, when the nights are dark, when the future is cloudy. Support restores confidence in the face of doubt and provides the shelter that amazing new ideas require in order to grow.
Resource #7: Ownership
Ownership may be the scariest part of innovation – taking ownership means making a commitment and seeing it through. It is very easy to be the 70% person and to throw half-baked thoughts out there hoping that one will stick, that someone will say “that’s great” – but the accomplishment and success of any idea can only be achieved thru ownership. Orphan ideas don’t survive.
Resource #8: Diversity
To truly break new ground, crashing together things that have come before, seeing things in new light, studying the world around, hearing the opinions of others – all of these are essential. The word that sums this up is diversity. What happens when you put the CEO in the same room as the guy from the mail room. What if you take the guy from HR and stick him with the girl from Marketing. How about putting a Brain Surgeon in the same room as a Motivational Speaker? There’s no absolute here – but the more points of view and sources of thinking that you can incorporate into your brainstorming process, the more original and creative the results will be.
Read the original postStart Slide Show with PicLens Lite