Innovation in Practice Blog
January 19, 2008
Which is easier to learn: innovation or leadership? That is one of my favorite questions to ask during keynotes and workshops, especially to groups of accomplished leaders. What amazes me is the answer I get back: overwhelmingly, groups of executives say that leadership is easier to learn than innovation.
January 13, 2008
My advice: stop evangelizing and start doing. Use a proven innovation method on a mainstream issue or product and let the results speak for themselves. Don't ask permission. Don't call it innovation. Don't preach the "..see, I told you!" message. And then...do it again. I take advice from Thomas Bonoma's classic HBR article from 1986, "Marketing Subversives."
January 10, 2008
From my experience, there are two choices in how to fund innovation: invention or development. Invention means the actual genesis of the idea, usually through a concentrated effort or workshop using a proven method. Development is what you do with the ideas that have commercial merit. Both take time and money. The choice depends on whether you think spending the money to generate ideas will yield more than a pool of funds to invest the ideas that you already have.
January 6, 2008
I've come full circle on the notion of improvisation as a source of innovation. I just finished a three day improv training program at The Second City to try to find direct application to corporate growth. I found it.
December 30, 2007
If 6th graders can learn to innovate in real time, so can the business world. That is why companies are embracing more productive, systematic methods of innovating and shunning traditional methods.
December 26, 2007
The Marketing Science Institute has formed a new Innovation Roundtable to explore common issues and challenges in the world of corporate innovation. The roundtable representatives are from Johnson & Johnson, GE, P&G, Diageo, Eastman Kodak, AT&T, Kraft, Merck, Thompson Healthcare, Praxair, Aetna, and General Mills.
December 21, 2007
What about adoption of ideas of others inside your organization? Innovators faces a particularly challenging issue getting colleagues to accept their ideas. Tanya Menon from the University of Chicago describes the paradox of an external idea being viewed as "tempting" while the exact same idea, coming from an internal source, is considered "tainted."
December 20, 2007
When you innovate on a regular basis, you create another problem for yourself...how to evaluate new product ideas to see which ones to pursue. Evan Williams has outlined a useful set of criteria to do just that in his article: "Will it Fly? How to Evaluate a New Product Idea." He has even applied the criteria to some of his own creations like Blogger and Twitter.
December 16, 2007
People often ask when is the best time to innovate: early in the pipeline process, middle, or late. Teams tend to resist innovation late in the process when they are busy launching a new product. Teams tend to resist innovating in the middle of the NPD process because they are too busy developing the next generation product. Teams tend to resist innovating early in the process because they are too busy developing franchise strategy. So when is the best time to innovate? Anytime.
December 8, 2007
The key to becoming extremely effective at innovation is to learn all the tools and templates that help create an initial, undefined construct, or what innovation researchers call "the pre-inventive form." This ability to apply a template, then find a useful purpose for the for what comes out of that template is what allows one to innovate on demand. Templates "make" people innovate.