Innovation in Practice Blog

October 13, 2020

The Subtraction Technique: The Creative Power of Taking Elements Away

Subtraction is the removal of an essential core element rather than the addition of new systems or functions.  Like all the other techniques of the Systematic […]
October 6, 2020

The Multiplication Technique: A Simple Tool with Many Creative Surprises Inside

Procter & Gamble was able to take an air freshener product that was lagging at 4th place in terms of market share – to 1st place, […]
September 29, 2020

How to Create and Run an Innovation Pilot Program

Individuals and organizations need to learn at a rate faster than the rate of change. And innovation pilot programs help you do that.  But how do […]
September 22, 2020

Fixedness: Your Main Barrier to Creative Thinking

How do you develop your creativity? As much as you want to or need to be creative, sometimes, there’s something that seems to block it. And […]
September 15, 2020

Process Innovation: Unlocking New Value in What You Do Everyday

The Systematic Inventive Thinking or SIT method is not only applicable to products, it’s also highly valuable in innovating services and processes.  Here are two ways […]
September 8, 2020

Innovation Dream Teams: The Secret Formula to Drive Team Success

When you’re talking about innovation, a traditional brainstorming approach doesn’t work. If you want to generate better ideas, you have to be able to create your […]
September 1, 2020

Why People Resist Our Innovative Ideas and How To Overcome It

With innovation comes resistance. They define each other. An idea simply cannot be innovative unless it’s met with resistance. Because of this, we should see resistance […]
August 25, 2020

How to Use the Closed World Principle of Creativity

Creative thinking can be systematic and routine. All you have to do is learn how to use your brain and learn a new way to generate […]
August 18, 2020

Divide and Conquer – How to Use the Division Technique

A common misconception is that creativity is a gift you are born with. People believe that if they don’t have it right from birth, they have […]
August 11, 2020

A Path to More Creative Thinking

Innovation is a skill. It’s not a gift. It’s not something you’re born with. But you can actually learn to be creative like you could learn […]
March 24, 2008

People Innovation

Human Resource departments often find themselves tasked with creating a more innovative climate for their firms. That can make sense given that innovation is a people activity. It's a skill, not a gift, and it can be taught and learned like any other business skill. And it is usually team-based. My advice to HR leaders? Experience innovation close to home first. Use innovation tools on actual people or HR systems before venturing out to the broader organization. This has the effect of making true believers out of the HR team, it gives them a handy reference point for other departments to benchmark, and it yields creative new approaches to traditional HR processes.
March 30, 2008

The Dream Catalog

For many companies, the catalog of products is the strongest statement of brand positioning a company can make. It is your arsenal of commercialization. So imagine you could peek into the future and see a copy of your company's product catalog five years from now. What would it look like? What if you could design it now? What would you put into it? These are the questions that confront you when you use a clever innovation tool called the Dream Catalog. The Dream Catalog is a hypothetical company catalog from the future...well into the future, beyond just the next business cycle. It is far enough out into the future that it captures the innovative thinking and imagination of today's managers. It stretches a company's thinking about its future, and it provokes a healthy discussion about possible company direction. A good Dream Catalog causes tension.
April 6, 2008

Innovation through Co-opetition

How do you innovate a business model? You can create new products and services within the current business model to drive growth. Or you can create a new business model and open up a whole new world of possibilities for the firm. Either innovate within the current game, or change the game. But how?
April 20, 2008

Innovation Behavior

Innovation is a skill, not a gift. Top organizations drive growth by nurturing and investing in innovation as a competency. One way organizations make it real is by including innovation within formal competency models. Professor Rodney Rogers of Portland State University defines a competency as a persistent pattern of behavior resulting from a cluster of knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivations. It is the persistence of those behaviors that matter most and help your organization succeed. Competency models are a useful way to formalize that behavior and make it persistent. They help describe the ideal patterns needed for exceptional performance. They are a blueprint for the type of person needed for a specific job. And they help diagnose and evaluate employee performance. It takes a lot of work to develop one, but it's worth it.
May 4, 2008

Innovation Diagnostic

Professor Keith Sawyer makes a useful connection between innovation and learning when he writes, "What both innovation and learning have in common is adaptability and improvisationality." He connects this idea with authors Joaquín Alegre and Ricardo Chiva from the Sloan Management Review. They identified five core features of high organizational learning capability (OLC) companies: experimentation, risk taking, interaction with the external environment, dialogue, and participative decision making. Keith has found that these five characteristics also hold true of organizations that use the power of collaboration to generate innovation. He believes that organizations high in learning ability are more likely to be innovative organizations.
May 18, 2008

Innovation Muscle

The best Fortune 100 companies see innovation as an ongoing capabilty, not a one time event. These companies work hard to build muscle around this capability so they can deploy it when they need it, where they need it, tackling their hardest problems. Companies do this to keep up with the ever changing landscape both inside and outside the firm. What does it mean to build innovation muscle? I think of it as the number of people trained, the frequency of using an innovation method, and the percentage of internal departments that have an innovation capabilty. Call it an Innovation Muscle Index: N (number of trained employees) x F (number of formal ideation events per year using a method) x P (percent of company departments with at least one employee trained in an effective innovation method. IMI = N x F x P
June 20, 2008

M&A Innovation

Relying on mergers and acquisitions for growth sends a signal that you don't know how to innovate or how to manage it. M&A has other problems, too. Companies tend to overpay which actually destroys shareholder value. At best, firms end up paying full value, neither better or worse off financially. The firm grows in size, not value, and pays in the form of distraction. What if you could use the tools and processes of innovation in mergers and acquisitions? How could it help? Would you select acquisition targets better? Could it help understand the valuation better so you get a better deal? Might it help you implement better? I believe innovation techniques could be applied to all three. Here is one example: targeting - deciding who to buy.
June 28, 2008

Innovation Telltale

If you want innovation in your company, hire innovative people. But how do you know if someone is innovative? What do you look for? What telltale evidence might suggest that a person has superior innovation skills? What is the telltale of innovation? I think I know the answer. But, just as with the youth hockey experience, I will need to collect data to be sure. My hypothesis is mental searching speed, an idea that Yoni Stern at S.I.T. taught me. This is a measure of how well you "Google" your own mind and memory for information or experiences when given a task. The task in the case of innovation is to take a Virtual Product (a mental abstract produced through the S.I.T. method), and mentally search your mind to find many productive, innovative uses for it. Whoever can find the most ideas for a given task is more innovative in my view. They make the team. My task now is to select a different team - a team of research collaborators to find and validate the Innovation Telltale, something the Fortune 100 will surely value.
July 13, 2008

Innovation Stigma

There is an inherent bias against innovation despite the enormous value it holds for organizations. Corporate executives know that innovation is the only true long term growth engine for their firm. Yet innovation carries with it a certain stigma, a perception in the minds of executives, that it is "soft" and frivolous compared to other hard core business activities like productivity, quality, and demand generation. This stigma deters executives from taking risk and investing in serious innovation initiatives.
July 23, 2008

The LAB: Innovation in Real Time

The readership of this blog has steadily grown, and it's time to start demonstrating how innovation works...in real time. Once each month, I will post The LAB. This is where we will use a specified innovation tool on a product or service that is suggested by one of you, the readers of this blog. Once I have received a suggested product or service (posted in Comments) from one of you, I will use a specified innovation tool to create a new-to-the-world innovation. I will show results in a subsequent post with a description of how I applied the tool and used each step of the process to create the innovation. In some LABS, I may be able to include a drawing or rendering of the innovation. For those people interested in the innovation space, my firm belief is that we need to make a regular habit of innovating so we can perfect the craft and set the pace for others. It is not enough to talk about and read about innovation. It is essential that we all do it.