Innovation in Practice Blog

November 23, 2015

Yes, There is Such a Thing as an Ugly Baby

Confirmation bias is the tendency for people to only seek out information that conforms to their pre-existing viewpoints, and subsequently ignore information that goes against them. You overweight the good news, and underweight the bad news.
November 16, 2015

Innovation’s New World Order

The shifting map of global innovation In the 2015 Global Innovation 1000 study, Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting group, provides new insights into the ways corporate innovation spending—which totaled $680 billion last year—has been changing in recent years, and examines the implications both for the future course of global economies and for corporate performance. How and where innovation is performed matters: As Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, author of classic texts on corporate strategy and the competitive advantage of nations, has noted, “Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity.”
November 9, 2015

Your Loyal Customers Love Innovation. Give It to Them

A great source of new sales growth is with your existing loyal customers. After all, they already understand the category, they trust your brand, and you have an existing relationship - meaning you’ve been given permission to interact with them. When I say loyal customer, I mean one that buys 100% of the product or service from you and no one else like your main competitors.
November 2, 2015

An Innovative Mindset: The Foundation for Your Innovative Thinking

If you want to shift your mindset in order to aid your innovative thinking, simply act in accordance with the Big Five, and you will be surprised how much faster and easier it will be for you to maximize the innovative thinking techniques and tools you are utilizing. By practicing, you are exercising your brain networks involved in innovative thinking and strengthening the neural connections that matter. Build a strong foundation for your innovative thinking and relish the results.
October 26, 2015

The Three Faces of Attribute Dependency

When using the Attribute Dependency technique, you’ll reach a point in the function follows form process where it’s time to make adaptations to your concept. That’s where you try to improve the concept and put more definition around it.
October 19, 2015

Structural Fixedness: A Barrier to Creativity

Imagine you’re driving down the highway, and you notice a flag waving in the distance. But something’s not right. The flag is upside down. You’d notice it right away because it’s not in its usual position that you have seen hundreds of times before.
October 12, 2015

BD Named 2015 Outstanding Corporate Innovator Winner by Product Development and Management Association

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), the premier global advocate for product development and management professionals, announced today that it has awarded the 2015 Outstanding Corporate Innovator (OCI) Award to BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX).
October 5, 2015

A Journey of Rediscovery: How Adidas Uses the Past to Innovate

How does a company cope with change? It’s a question that looms large for many executives who are struggling to keep up with the breakneck pace of business. Those who fail to answer it may face loss of market share, or, in extreme cases, financial ruin. All too often, companies respond to these pressures by fixating on the future, not realizing that their greatest strength could be hidden in their past.
September 28, 2015

Innovation Sighting: The Task Unification Technique for Young and Old

The Task Unification Technique is great because it generates novel ideas that tend to be novel and resourceful. Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence, it's taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. Here are two great examples, one about a very young person and the other about a new and nifty device for old people.
September 21, 2015

Innovation That Shapes Who We Are

When you try on a new piece of clothing, like a shirt or a new jacket, what do you see when you look in the mirror? If you’re like most consumers, you’re not looking at the clothing. Rather, you’re looking at yourself and thinking about how that new clothing fits the image of the person you are or want to become.
January 24, 2011

Don’t Brand Your Innovation Program

Companies should avoid the temptation to brand their innovation program. While it seems like a great way to bring excitement and focus to innovation, branding these programs does just the opposite. Employees become cynical, they wait it out, and they go right back to doing what they were doing before. I liken this advice to that from Edwards Deming on quality. His 14 Key Principles are legendary in the quality movement worldwide. Principle Number 10 says: "Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force."
January 17, 2011

Innovation for the Non-Profit Sector

Non-profit organizations need innovation every bit as much as for-profit firms. Some might argue they need it more because they lack the resources and cash flow of large commercial firms. Non-profits need innovation in: * Fund Raising * Expanding their reach * Mission delivery * Resource utilization The need for innovation in the non-profit sector is widely recognized. Awards, grants, and other forms of recognition for innovative programs help stimulate managers to be more aggressive. While the need is recognized, the approach to innovating non-profits is not. To innovate in the non-profit sector, these organizations should use the same methods found so effective in corporate innovation. Structured methods based on patterns inherent in inventive solutions can be applied to the non-profit business model just as effectively as the for-profit model. A method like S.I.T. can help an organization "break fixedness" about their role, resources, and process, thus opening new possibilities and approaches.
October 18, 2010

Tainted Innovation, Tempting Innovation

An idea stands a better chance of surviving if it is not attributed to the individual who conceived it. Otherwise, the idea carries with it all the baggage and perception of its owner, good or bad. During idea evaluation, people struggle separating their feelings about the ideator from the idea itself. If they like the person, they like their idea...and vice versa.
April 5, 2010

Kill Your Innovation Champion

Here are five things companies need to do to develop the organizational structure, culture, and incentives to encourage successful innovation.
March 1, 2010

Innovating to Compete

nnovating is a form of competitive behavior. When we innovate, we compete with someone or something. We innovate to survive. We innovate for glory. We innovate to win. Leaders of organizations need to understand and leverage this competitive aspect of innovation to embed it into the organization. Innovating to compete occurs at many levels:
February 8, 2010

Innovation and Reputation

Sustainable innovation requires structured methods. But it also requires collaboration and information sharing among colleagues. Innovation is a team sport - groups produce better results than the lone genius. So how do you create a more favorable context for collaboration and sharing in your business unit? Reputation is what matters. The degree to which a technical worker will share information with a colleague depends on that colleague's reputation for returning the favor. The rule of reciprocity states that people give back to those in the form they have received from others. It is a social rule taught by every human society to its members - you give back to those who have given to you. But the key is: to make the first move. You have to be seen as someone who gives and shares information with others, and has a reputation for returning the favor when others give to you.
January 18, 2010

Language and Innovation

Language and innovation are inseparable. Language puts meaning to our ideas, be it spoken, written, or symbolic. We convey ideas to others which is essential in corporate innovation. Innovation would be nearly impossible if we did not have language. If you want to improve your innovation effectiveness, improve your use of language. Structured innovation methods help regulate our thinking and channel the ideation process. At the moment immediately before we innovate, we hold in our minds a pre-inventive form or structure that has yet to be understood. It is at that exact moment we begin to conjure up words and associations to attach to the pre-inventive form. It is this process of linking objective facts and judgments to the pre-inventive form that transforms it to an inventive form - an idea. Here is a step-by-step approach how language is used in innovation:
November 16, 2009

Academic Focus: University of Michigan

Once you develop the capability to generate ideas, you need a rigorous approach to managing innovation within the context of your company's culture. For that, Professor Jeff DeGraff's Competing Values Framework (CVF) is the best-in-class approach. CVF describes four organizational cultural styles of managing innovation: Collaborate, Create, Control, and Compete. Management teams tend to gravitate towards one, dominant style, the one that has served them well in the past. To be a more effective, leaders need to be "ambidextrous." Leaders should become adroit at two conflicting values. "They must develop the ability to oversee teams that work towards opposite goals, integrating them when the timing is right, so that each value can be developed successfully."
June 14, 2009

Hopeful Innovation

Are hopeful employees more innovative? A new study by Armenio Rego and his colleagues shows how employees' sense of hope explains their creative output at work. They asked one hundred and twenty five employees to rate their personal sense of hope and happiness while their supervisors rated the employees' creativity. Based on the correlations, they conclude that hope predicts creativity. Hope is defined as a positive motivational belief in one's future; the feeling that what is wanted can be had; that events will turn out for the best. Hoping is an integral part of being human. Without hope, tasks such as innovating become difficult if not impossible. Why bother if there is no hope for a successful future? "Hope is important for innovation at work because creativity requires challenging the status quo and a willingness to try and possibly fail. It requires some level of internal, sustaining force that pushes individuals to persevere in the face of challenges inherent to creative work."