Innovation in Practice: Four Years Old!

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Innovation in Practice: Four Years Old!

“oh this is going to be addictive”

That was tweet #38 from Twitter co-developer, Dom Sagolla on March 21, 2006, the date Twitter was officially launched as a web-based application.

Truer words were never spoken.  I started Innovation in Practice on December 2, 2007.  This month marks its four year anniversary.  The title of my first post was “Innovation is a Skill, Not a Gift.”

The themes of this blog are:

  • Innovation can be learned like any other skill such as marketing, leadership, or playing the guitar.  To be an innovator, learn a method.  Teach others.
  • Innovation is a two-way phenomena.  We can start with a problem and innovate solutions.  Or we can generate hypothetical solutions and explore problems that they solve.  To be a great innovator, you need to be a two-way innovator.
  • Innovation must be linked to strategy.  Innovation for innovation’s sake doesn’t matter.  Innovation that is guided by strategy or helps guide strategy yields the most opportunity for corporate growth.
  • The corporate perspective, where innovation is practiced day-to-day, is what must be understood and kept at the center of attention.  This is where truth is separated from hype.

3rd gradeAt the beginning of 2011, I set a goal:  “Reach New Audiences.  I want to expose innovation methods to kids, seniors citizens,  people with disabilities…anyone who wants to make a difference with innovation.”  This year, I had the good fortune to teach innovation to third and fourth graders at the Wyoming School District in Ohio.  I was impressed with the many cool ideas they developed using S.I.T..  One of my favorites:  an umbrella with two handles, one at each end.  I asked third-grader, Sam, to tell me why it was useful.  He said, “Because if the wind blows your umbrella out, you can just turn it upside down and start using it!”

I also taught innovation to a group of special needs students at the Hughes High School in Cincinnati.  I had twenty five students, all with various issues such as autism and ADHD.  The result was the same.  One student used multiplication on a flashlight.  He made a copy of the on/off button.  I asked him to explain the benefit of having a second button.  He said, “The second button is used to change the brightness of the light.”  Not bad for a kid named Ryan with Down Syndrome.

For next year, I plan to continue blogging The LAB series.  This is my way of practicing with the method and exposing new uses to my readers.  In 2011, I used S.I.T. to innovate:  the pricing process, a light switch, new product launch, software, corporate training program, pharmaceuticals, a treadmill, cosmetics, Facebook, inflight services, and a book.

Speaking of book, that is another goal for next year: we plan to publish a book that teaches people how to use Systematic Inventive Thinking.  No firm date yet.

I want to thank Jacob Goldenberg, Amnon Levav, Yoni Stern, and the entire team at S.I.T..  Also, Christie Nordhielm and Marta Dapena-Baron at Big Picture Partners, Bob Cialdini at Influence at Work, Yury Boshyk at Global Executive Learning Network, the Washington Speakers Bureau, and my fellow faculty at the UC Lindner College of Business.

I thank all of you for reading this blog.  I wish you the best in 2012.