Innovation is a big corporate buzzword, and it’s one of the hottest topics on this blog. That’s because it’s one of the biggest mysteries to business leaders. A new study from Accenture, “Why Low Risk Innovation Is Costly,” revealed that fewer than one in five chief executives believes their company’s strategic investments in innovation are paying off. Because of the high percentage of failure, nearly half of the executives surveyed said their companies were less likely to risk implementing breakthrough ideas.
Innovation only happens in the right environment, one where everyone is not only allowed to innovate, but they are actively encouraged to speak up and bring new ideas to the table. This may sound like common sense, but it is far from common practice. How do you create an innovative environment?
- Innovation only comes by invitation. Invite people to bring forth their new ideas. True innovation takes place when people are free to raise ideas, take ownership of them, and then implement them. If people are required to ask permission for every step they take, they will stop asking permission.
- Innovation is not a solo sport, it requires a group of players with skills specific to the effort. Many companies appoint an innovation department or hire a chief innovation officer, which can make innovation just another stovepipe in the organization. The message this sends to your organization is that innovation is “their job” and “not mine” – siloed off. While an idea may come from one individual, it’s the cross-functional creativity, trust, and collaboration that bring innovation to life.
- Encourage everyone to put their ideas to test fast, fail fast, and then reiterate. If people wait for perfection before they put the idea to work, the effort will lose steam before it ever gets off the ground.
- Value the lessons taken from failure as much as your successes, and apply those lessons toward each new attempt. This makes it safe for everyone to innovate. The idea is not to encourage failure but to foster innovation that leads to winning success as rapidly as possible.
- Ensure this behavior gets modeled at every level, from the very top to individual contributor. That means the senior leaders must be actively involved, not just mandating the change.
- Resist the desire to project manage your way to innovation. It cannot be generated by focusing solely on budgets, resources, and timelines. If you try, you can guarantee your innovation investment will be wasted.
- IT Innovation: is outsourcing possible? (worldofinnovations.net)
- CMiC Innovation Award Contest 2013 – Submit for a Chance to Win for Your Charity! (prweb.com)
- Week in Review: Dell, Innovation, and Clean Energy (axialmarket.com)
- Six Steps to a Smarter Start-Up (inc.com)
- Chief Innovation Officer (leticiacaminero.com)
- Guest Post: 4 Ways to Turn Your Company Into an Innovation Machine (marenhogan.wordpress.com)
by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai (courtesy mashable)
President Barack Obama thinks American students aren't connected enough, and that access to faster Internet connections and technologies is crucial in today's schools. That's why he wants to make sure that 99% of students have high-speed broadband access within the next five years.
"We are living in a digital age, and to help our students get ahead, we must make sure they have access to cutting-edge technology," Obama said in a statement published by the White House.
- Pres. Obama wants high-speed Internet in schools by 2018 (fox6now.com)
- News News - Obama Wants to Upgrade 99% of Students to High-Speed Internet by 2018 (comeusmedia.wordpress.com)
- Obama wants high-speed Internet in schools by 2018 (wqad.com)
- Obama Wants to Upgrade 99% of Students to High-Speed Internet by 2018 (mashable.com)
Helping Frontline Workers Become Innovative
Innovative organizations do not miraculously come into existence. Rather, they are created by leaders who establish the conditions necessary to bring out the innovative ideas within everyone.
How can organizational leaders create these conditions? In particular, how can they create conditions that will encourage frontline workers to be innovative? This requires, I believe, that leaders fulfill two major conditions. They must convince frontline workers that the leadership supports the line; and, they must ensure that frontline workers understand the big picture.
In every effective organization, there is some kind of implicit contract between the leadership and the line. The line will produce what the leadership wants; in turn, the leadership produces what the line wants. The organization’s leadership wants to make this message as explicit as possible: “You produce for us, and we’ll produce for you”.
This implicit contract is needed by any organization that seeks to become innovative. Frontline workers will not help an organization’s leadership do a better job at achieving its mission unless they believe these leaders will help them.
Frontline workers: leadership on their side
But what should those frontline workers who have decided that being innovative is good for the organization attempt to accomplish? In what direction should they attempt to innovate? What are the constraints? How will an innovation fit within other efforts being made throughout the agency? What is the purpose of the agency and how will any specific innovation help to achieve that purpose? To be effective as innovators, frontline workers must understand what the organization is trying to accomplish, why it is trying to accomplish that, and how it might achieve that goal.
Frontline workers understand the big picture
Before frontline workers are going to become innovative, they have to believe that the organization’s leadership supports them, and they have to understand the big picture.
Be immediately responsive
When an executive first asks frontline workers or middle managers what should be done to improve the organization’s effectiveness, the responses will inevitably focus on working conditions. People will complain about the lack of a soft drink machine, the broken toilet, or the photocopier that barely reproduces the original. Obviously, workers will be more productive if they have the right tool.
The quicker that top management produces the new copier, the better its credibility will be.
In fact, before asking frontline workers what should be done to improve the organization, its leaders ought to know the answer they will hear. Before top management meets with the workers, leaders ought to find out what kind of improvements the workers will request. Before the meeting, they ought to check out exactly what they will have to do to produce the improvement and how long it will take. Then, when confronted with the request, they can commit to making the improvement and also state clearly whether the improvement will be completed in a day, a week, a month, or a year.
To identify the needs of frontline workers, the agency’s leadership ought to ask the union. In fact, in a unionized agency, if the organization’s leaders go straight to their frontline workers, the union will view this as a direct threat, an effort to undermine its role.
Innovative organizations make mistakes, lots of mistakes. And how the organization treats these mistakes and those who make them sends important signals throughout the organization. If the mistaken innovators are punished in any way, even if they are just perceived to be punished, frontline workers will relearn a basic lesson of bureaucratic life: It does not pay to experiment with new ideas.
Unfortunately, a lot of people make their living catching mistaken innovations. These mistake catchers get their jollies and their professional recognition from uncovering and exposing mistakes. The moral fervor with which they take on this assignment combined with the well-known and easily implemented strategy for publicizing any mistake creates the
If frontline workers learn that no mistake, even an honest mistake, goes unpunished, they will certainly be reluctant to be innovative. Consequently, leaders who wish to create an innovative organization have to figure out ways to prevent those who make mistakes from being punished.
- IT Innovation: is outsourcing possible? (worldofinnovations.net)
- Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers is a… (prweb.com)
- Free Yourself with a Fearless Front Line (cherylmcmillan.com)
- Should You Take That Innovation Job? (blogs.hbr.org)
- 2- Leadership and Innovation: Relating to Circumstances and Change (serdarbicer.wordpress.com)
- Should You Take That Innovation Job? – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
Are you thinking about ways to transform your workplace into an environment more conducive to innovation? This article takes a closer look at six components of creative climates that have shown to be significant at facilitating creativity according to new research.
What is a creative climate?
A climate can be seen as various aspects of the psychological atmosphere in a team and the surrounding organizational environment. The climate often conveys expectations about which behaviors and attitudes that are acceptable. In the creativity research field there has been many attempts to conceptualize the idea of a ‘creative’ climate – i.e. such a climate that facilitates outcomes that are creative.
This article highlights six components of a creative climate that have been shown to be among the most salient in predicting creative and innovative outcomes.
Complex, challenging and interesting tasks and goals spur intrinsic motivation, which is a critical component of creativity. Yet here also lies an important caveat. Tasks and goals should not be too overwhelming because then the challenge risk becoming an obstacle – effectively stifling motivation.
2. Intellectual debate
When working with complex and challenging tasks, problems often surface. The nature of these problems is that they are often novel to the people that encounters them and complex in that they can be solved in different ways. To ensure that a project can move forward, many viewpoints must be heard and people must feel secure enough so that they put forward their best ideas. In organizations where there is no debate people tend to stick to “tried and true” ways of doing things – applying old solutions to new problems.
3. Flexibility and risk taking
A basic reality of creative endeavors is that they are inherently uncertain. Often, there is no valid information that ensures that an idea or an innovation is guaranteed to succeed. Even a creative idea itself may not be practical enough to be realized into a new product, service or process improvement. Thus, risk is inherently built into innovation. Research shows that tolerating this risk, not minimizing it, is the best strategy. Thus, it is crucial that organizations accept and allow risk, encourage experimentation and failure.
4. Top management support
Another salient component of a creative climate is the perception of support from top management. This support entails both espoused support; when top management communicate norms that encourage innovation, risk taking and experimentation, and enacted support. This latter form of support is perhaps the most important, since it is the amount of resources such as money, time and facilities that top management is prepared to commit to innovation. If resources are not available, employees will see through the rhetoric of encouragement, effectively undermining these efforts.
5. Positive supervisor relations
Support for new ideas by the supervisor or team leader is critical for the further development and implementation of these ideas. Especially supportive leaders listen and give feedback to ideas, and tolerate a certain degree of experimentation. Furthermore, leaders should publicly recognize and reward creative efforts.
6. Positive interpersonal exchange
The last salient component of creative climates is joy. When team members experience a sense of “togetherness” that comes with a common goal, team members will want to cooperate efficiently for their mutual benefit. This increases both team performance as well as individual performance. With increased togetherness communication is facilitated, which will allow different perspectives and keep conflict away.
- Top Six Components of a Creative Climate (innovationmanagement.se)
- 6 Ways to Unleash Creativity in the Workplace (worldofinnovations.net)
- Leadership: Creating a climate for innovation (bringinnovationalive.wordpress.com)
- Invest the Time in Innovation (iacquire.com)
- A Research-Based Guide to Brainstorming Linkbait – or Anything Else (seomoz.org)
The U.S. president message
President Barack Obama said “Digital Promise is a unique partnership that will bring everyone together – educators, entrepreneurs, and researchers – to use technology to help students learn and teachers teach. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to education, but technology can be a powerful tool, and Digital Promise will help us make the most of it.”
Digital Promise is a nonprofit corporation authorized by Congress “to support a comprehensive research and development program to harness the increasing capacity of advanced information and digital technologies to improve all levels of learning and education, formal and informal, in order to provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy.”
In 2008, Digital Promise was formally authorized as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. With an initial Board of Directors recommended in part by Members of Congress and appointed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Digital Promise was formally launched by President Barack Obama in September 2011 with startup support from the U.S. Department of Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Digital Promise League
The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools is a unique national coalition of 32 school districts in 21 states that serve more than 2.7 million students. Through partnerships with start-ups, research institutions, and one another, League districts are committing to demonstrate, evaluate, and scale up innovations that deliver better results for students.
- Discovery Education And Digital Promise Host Summit On The Transition To Digital Classrooms: ‘Future@Now’ Accelerates National Discussion On Digital Learning And The Impact On College And Workforce Readiness (sys-con.com)
- “How can we expand personalized learning?” Adam Frankel (studereducation.wordpress.com)
- Here’s how to scale school innovation (eschoolnews.com)
- EU Digital Agenda chief promises single mobile market by 2015 (zdnet.com)
- ‘The New Digital Age’: Promise and Peril Ahead for the Global Internet (business.time.com)
The power of asking the right questions
One of the most powerful ways of getting the best ideas from brainstorming and sparking creativity is to start with the right question.
The opposite is also true - you can spin your wheels, and kill ideation by asking the wrong question.
Too often, brainstorming meetings get stuck in a rut. They either cycling over the same ideas, go off on a tangent that ends up miles from your business, or is simply uninspired and flat.
Innovation over-highlighted in companies?
On the web, we can read articles saying that companies & people overrated Innovation. Arguments are clear: consumers that would like some products do not especially want innovative products. These consumers need very good products, with the right price – depending on level of life of consumers & at the right moment – accessible during the seasons, the locations, the time and so on… It seems to be absolutely true, isn’t it?
We are not buying a car because there is tablet inside but because the design of the car is what’s we expected, the fiability and global quality is very good and the car bought is in relation with what’s we would like to do with it: driving in cities, driving in the nature or allowing us to drive with 4 children.
Does it means that cars produced do not require important innovations to build the best car for the smallest price?
What is innovation?
Wikipedia answers to this question: “Innovation is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.”
It means that reducing company’s innovation to innovative products is really viewing it as a small piece of what can be innovation. Innovation concept is larger.
Culture of innovation
The standard structures of the company are managing the recurrent operations. We do not have to reduce the importance of these structures: financial results made with them, allow companies to have an innovation structure.
But innovation cannot be processed as in standard structures: there is no recurrent action in its management. Innovation needs its own organization with dedicated managers and experts. Innovation does not have to be separated from the rest of the company: people in the standard structure needs to participate to innovations.
Innovation structures need their own budget with dedicated KPIs, radically different from other budgets. Another key point is the sponsorship. It must clearly be sponsored by executive board members. Steering committees, less structured, must be put in place.
At the end, all collaborators of the company, employees, directors, board members and CEO must contribute to innovation process. Putting a culture of innovation is a key element in a company.
Is Innovation really overrated?
For a company, innovation is larger than having innovative products. Having a process reducing time to proceed operations, having new product with new services more adapted to the market or using new technologies for selling or for having better products is innovation!
I have already heard that coming back to the root of project management is probably more important than having innovation focus. I have to say that there is no link between project management and innovation. Both are required in different steps in any company.
Since 5 years, innovation is entered in all companies, the small ones as the big ones, companies from every countries and from all sectors. It is not a fashion way that will disappear within 5 years. Innovation is a key element that companies have right now to integrate in their strategy for a long time.
How learn if robots run the world?
Science fiction writers and blockbuster movies have been predicting a world run by robots for decades, and for most of us, the fantasy has stayed in the realm of fiction. But artificial intelligence has made rapid progress and robots are becoming more a part of everyday life than many people realize. Those who study robots and their impact on life foresee a day not too far off when many jobs now held by people will be automated.
Computers & incremental creativity
As artificial intelligence improves and slowly takes over aspects of daily life, the only way for people to continue to be useful is to “up-skill” — and that takes creativity. “Incremental creativity is just improving on something, but radical creativity is thinking something up,”. We can believe that, in time, computers will be capable of incremental creativity, slowly improving a process and building on its success. What they will never be able to do is generate a radically new idea.
The role of educators
“The role of the educator is to channel and guide what is fundamentally an improvisational process”. Education has to focus on learning how to learn – metacognition. School will still be important, but not to impart what happened during the Revolutionary War or to teach the quadratic formula. School, he said, should focus on teaching young people the intangibles, the things that make humans unique: relationships, flexibility, humanity, how to make discriminating decisions, resilience, innovation, adaptability, wisdom, ethics, curiosity, how to ask good questions, synthesizing and integrating information, and of course, creating. In the future, computers and humans will be working together to create the next big invention and when that happens, people can distinguish themselves by controlling the process and the strategy. Humans will define the goals and will think creatively about solutions.
To produce more creative thinkers
Most political leaders and education experts agree that the education system needs to adapt to the technological realities of the age and work to produce more creative thinkers. “The whole culture is coming out with support for more and greater creativity in students,” said R. Keith Sawyer, professor of education and psychology studying creativity and learning at Washington University in St. Louis, at the same conference.
Recognizing that much of the creative work generated comes out of collaborative group work, teachers can think about their classrooms as places for improvisational flow, where teachers and students are building knowledge together. Structure is needed, but some flexibility as well.
An incremental learning model
To arrive at an improvisational classroom, educators can move away from an instructional model for the classroom. The traditional model clings to the notion that children need to learn particular facts and it’s the teacher’s job to impart that information to students. Facts and information build incrementally and turn into more complex ideas, and learning is measured by testing knowledge of facts.
But many argue that this model results in superficial knowledge and low retention, weak transfer to new situations, inability to integrate facts and apply to other situations, Sawyer said.
Sawyer proposes that schooling should be constructionist, focusing on a deeper, conceptual understanding of topics with the ability to build new knowledge in new situations. To do this, students need to take facts, skills, and concepts and apply them to real-word problems. Learning should start with a driving question. This way, students can explore the topic through inquiry and discussion, working in teams, just as they would in the workplace or other life situations. Students create a tangible product that addresses the issue at hand, and along the way an instructor guides the process.
Every teacher as creative professional
Every teacher is a creative professional,” Sawyer said. “And in the ideal world, every teacher is contributing these small ideas, engaging in mutual tinkering. But we have to share with others, we can’t keep it in the classroom.” The creative act of teaching needs to be a collaborative one, like a startup team working on the next innovative product. If each teacher continues to tinker and offer ideas to the larger group, a creative breakthrough will emerge.
“It’s going to be every one of us that contributes ideas along the way,” Sawyer said. And in doing so, teachers everywhere can create the institutional change that stands between them and implementing the ideas that to many are obvious and instinctual.
- If robots will run the world what should student learn (kqed.org)
- Let’s Hire Robots Instead of Human Teachers (jcsprenger.com)
- Robots to ‘Teach’ in Experiments in New York and California (theepochtimes.com)
- Gates Foundation wants cameras in every classroom – to help, of course (notthesingularity.com)
- 5 Practical Uses of Social Media in the Classroom (revolutionarypaideia.com)