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)
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)
1. Innovation as a corporate function
At a growing number of large organizations, innovation is now an identified organizational group, with a specific mandate, roles and responsibilities, metrics, processes, resources, and governance. According to a 2012 Capgemini study, 43% of large global companies now have a formally accountable innovation executive. Innovation has become a corporate function, and the trend is gaining steam.
2. Most leaders see Innovation as distraction
Yet despite the trend, today’s innovation leader has a very difficult mission, for two reasons. First, most corporate warriors in middle management persist in thinking of innovation as a management fad – a distraction from quarterly goals and core objectives. As a result, the innovation leader faces a constant uphill battle for legitimacy – unless he/she demonstrates clear, powerful business results from innovation’s efforts. And there is a limited time window before faith and confidence are lost permanently.
3. Innovation breaks operational excellence
Secondly, innovation has a distinct rhythm from the daily business. Instead of driving to efficiency and operational excellence, successful innovation requires space and time to create, tolerance of failure and a culture of open experimentation. In a corporate setting, individuals with ‘innovative’ personalities have long since learned to hide or downplay them, for the sake of career advancement. So the natural rhythm of innovation inevitably feels strange and foreign within a large organization.
4. Innovation as strategic axis for competition
Yet senior leaders increasingly view innovation as a strategic imperative, allowing the firm to adapt and respond to competitive pressures, customer needs and technology change in a rapidly changing, information-rich 21st century world. Most of the time, a great deal is riding on the success or failure of the Innovation Leader. In some cases, the C-suite has staked the company’s future on it.
5. Innovation Project Outsourcing
In this environment, outsourcing is a critical enabler of success. Experienced innovation firms use proven methods and tools to produce those crucial early-stage results, while also injecting the DNA of innovation process into the organization. Typically this outsourcing takes one of two forms.
When the need for a specific innovation is clear – breakthrough new product designs, for example – the innovation leader may outsource the entirety of an innovation project. This is called Innovation Project Outsourcing – in which an innovation firm acts like a design agency, working independently and producing ready-made innovations as deliverables. These projects can range from R&D and engineering work, product and/or industrial design, to innovation process design.
6. Innovation Process Outsourcing
Ultimately, however, the innovation leader cannot be wholly dependent on an outsourcer to produce innovation. Innovation Process Outsourcing is a critical step in embedding innovation habits into an organisation’s DNA. An experienced innovation firm will be intimately familiar with the difficulties of involving broad sets of enterprise stakeholders in a collaborative process. Working underneath the innovation leader, outsourced programme managers can be embedded into the organization as change agents and campaign managers. Through careful scoping of innovation initiatives, combined with skilful management of the campaigns themselves, dramatic results can be achieved while also socializing the behaviors and rhythms of successful enterprise innovation.
7. Innovation Skill Transfert
The end goal of these outsourcing efforts is innovation skill transfer and discipline-building within the corporation. Over time, the outsourcer trains its client on the core Innovation Management skills and methods, which allows the innovation programme to achieve sustainable scale as an enterprise program. As a result, the organisation begins to treat ideas as valuable intellectual capital – and consistently collect, vet and leverage this capital for business benefit.
8. Permanent home for innovation outsourcing
In the longer term, there is a permanent home for innovation outsourcing in most companies. Innovation strategy is a core competence any organisation needs to build, refine and invest in – it’s the future of the company. But aspects of how innovation is built and executed may be outsourced, as external parties have skills and competencies which the company may not have or even need to be in-house.
- Cloud’s role in the move from outsourcing to smartsourcing (intechnology.co.uk)
- Why Innovation Programs Are A Total Waste Of Time (ceo.com)
- 5 Myths About Innovation And Strategy (ceo.com)
- 2013 Winners: Training Outsourcing Companies Watch List (barebrilliance.wordpress.com)
- Kill Your Innovation Champion (psychologytoday.com)
- Outsourcing Business Processes for Innovation (barebrilliance.wordpress.com)
These are slides and speaking notes from a presentation I made recently to a corporate training group.
I passionately believe…
1) That any information architecture (iA)needs to span more than one insular organization or it, in and of itself, just becomes one more stand-alone methodology…
2) That structure paradoxically engenders freedom by eliminating useless redundancy of content and effort…
- "Developing Researcher Skills in Research Data Management: Training for the Future - A DataPool Project Report" (digital-scholarship.org)
- Getting Your Web Site's Structure Right (tc.eserver.org)
- No matter how big it gets, data still demands management and quality checks (blogs.techworld.com)
- Easy Enterprise Architecture (xpdianea.wordpress.com)
It is really simple to think in terms of innovation as a “closed” activity where the company owns the information by different means. Research is performed, new ideas come up, and new businesses are developed. This linear analysis however is missing several advantages than can be obtained by shifting the process to an open innovation model. Some of those advantages are:
- More amount of ideas: it sounds obvious, but it’s necessary to comment that the more people involved in the innovation process, the more ideas one can get to select from
- Wider reach: it’s related with the previous advantage. When more people and with more different backgrounds are implicated, ideas tend to be more diverse and rich. Having people with backgrounds in art or architecture, for designing computers, for example, can be necessary, and provide with experience that computer designers may not have.
- More focused target: Involving customers, final users, and suppliers, will ensure that targets are reached. Their opinion is of great importance. Many ideas are developed, and then rejected because of final user tastes, or supplier’s impossibility of achieving expected results. Having them making suggestions in the beginning of the process will ensure that ideas that are being developed are on the right track.
- Resources efficiency: the amount of infrastructure necessary in a “closed innovation” business model to achieve the same results as an open innovation one is prohibitive. Companies can’t afford that amount of money. If they want those results, they should use an open model.
But, which are the steps to follow? It’s rather simple to think about them but not executing:
- Change the mind model of people in the company. This is the most difficult part, and yet, the most necessary.
- Select your partners. Thinking wider is better in this stage. Who can bring more ideas? Making a diagram on how the business model is, can be good for leaving no one behind.
- Make the rules: make a contract setting what can and can’t be done. Is necessary to reduce risks.
- Execute the process. Work platforms are necessary. Think on their impact in the process.
- Monitor and improve. As in every process, things can (and must) be improved.
Who is doing this now? What are their results?
Media related companies, such as movie making, or advertising, and fashion, have been doing it for a while, but also Oil&Gas companies and Automotive companies, specially in relation with their suppliers, or B2B customers.
Results are cheaper and more focused ideas. For example, wider approaches lead to the use of medicine images technology for oil fields exploration.
People can access internet from anywhere in the world. Right now, companies can take profit from the ideas that a potential customer comes out while travelling in the metro.
To wrap up, open your mind, open your company process to the rest of the world, and the results you will find, are greater than you can imagine.
- open-innovation-shifting-to-a-more-efficient-business-model (eoi.es)
- Business Model Innovation (risingwiththecloud.wordpress.com)
- Problemsourcing initiative gets the academic once-over (sticknz.net)
- 5 Business Models That Are Driving The Circular Economy (millennialambitions.com)
- Creative ‘deconstruction’::Innovate Your Business Model (fitforrandomness.wordpress.com)
The demand for creativity from employees is rising in this age of rapid technological advancement. This is evident when we see multinational companies like Google setting up something known as a the 20 percent program or policy where Google developers get to spend 20 percent of their working hours (a day at work) on side projects. It was an attempt to give employees the time and space to think innovatively. Indeed, the policy works well, with some of the best products of Google (e.g. Google News) originating from the program.
Some of you may think that creativity is an inborn trait rather than something that can be learned and developed. This may be so, but without a conducive environment for creativity to be expressed, how can we expect to see ideas arising from creative employees? This is precisely what this article is about, to show you ways which you can adopt in the workplace to encourage employees to seek innovation in their work.
1. Reward Creativity
If you want to get employees to think out-of-the-box, you need to motivate them with some form of rewards. Moreover, suggestions have to be taken seriously so that employees are willing to come up with more creative ways of improving the workplace. Otherwise, everyone will think it’s a waste of time to squeeze out creative juices for suggestions that won’t be implemented anyway.
To kick-start things up, you can set goals for your employees to think up of some ways of making work processes more efficient. Encourage them to think more about concrete target to be reached with innovation that solution. From the ideas proposed by some employees, you’ll assess which idea is the best. This will be followed with a reward for the employee and equally important, implementation. The reward can be tangible ones like giving monetary incentives, or intangible ones like recognition from the organization by announcing the winner to the rest.
2. Anonymity & Confidentiality
Your employees may already be motivated to be creative but have no outlets to voice out their wonderful ideas. While the outspoken ones can always speak to the management about some suggestions they have in mind, others may be too shy or afraid to do so in this manner. Providing a suggestion box or anything similar would grant these employees the anonymity and confidentiality they crave, thereby inspiring the creative spirit that you wish to instill as part of the organization culture.
However, some of the most creative ideas are born out of brainstorming sessions where a group of people discuss and debate about possible solutions to a problem. Having such a private channel for employees to contribute ideas may thus hinder the creative process. Moreover, those who provide the effective ideas won’t get identified and get the recognition they need. It will be wise to balance both private and public mediums for employees to propose their suggestions.
3. Innovation Teams
A more systematic way of promoting creativity in the workplace is to set up innovation teams. Each innovation team will be tasked to come up with ideas on how to improve the work process of a particular aspect. Deadlines are to be set to ensure that the teams present their ideas and be rewarded if they are excellent. When done properly, this will signal to everyone that the organization values work-related creativity.
One catch is that such innovation teams may be seen as too ‘deliberate’ to some employees. Creativity is supposed to be spontaneous; ideas arising from the strokes of genius. Having such teams may make it seem like an extra chore for those assigned to them, and the systematic approach (i.e. the focus on a single topic) may come across as too rigid for creativity to flourish.
4. Support Creativity
Employees may be unwilling to take risks because they do not know whether the organization supports creativity. This is when you need to guide the organization in the right direction, and show that creativity is highly valued. This has a lot to do with how receptive you are to their ideas, and how you make known your intention to be a more creative company.
One reason why employees are not thinking out-of-the-box or coming up with solution that are vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of the repercussions of making mistakes. Risk-taking has to be encouraged and be seen as a norm in the organization. Developing a creative culture takes time, but it starts off with management being more open-minded and less judgmental to the suggestions by employees.
5. Diversity Among Employees
How can different ideas exchange if everyone thinks in a similar manner? Employees with comparable backgrounds, qualifications, experience, etc creates a homogeneous working environment. Perhaps having such homogeneity between the employees will facilitate team-bonding and such, but when it comes to workplace creativity, a uniform and agreeable crowd leaves little room for ideas to flourish.
Rather than setting stringent recruitment prerequisites, you might consider giving more allowance in your criteria. Hire staffs from different knowledge and background and get them to mingle around in projects and even company events. Organize more informal settings between employees with dissimilar profiles for the interchanging of thoughts.
6. Positive Working Environment
Sometimes, too serious a mindset can hinder creativity. Having fun during work allows one to be relaxed and that’s where one tends to get inspired with wonderful ideas. Needless to say, a stressful or even depressing work environment doesn’t give one the mood to think of doing things differently. The employee would only look forward to the end of the day.
Psychological studies have revealed that positive mood can spur creativity. The idea is that positive mood awards us with greater flexibility in thinking because our perspectives are widened. We become more open-minded in that sense and are willing to explore alternatives. Knowing such findings now, incorporating fun into the work through team-bonding activities or retreats every once in a while can be a crucial element in injecting creativity in the workplace.
Post based articles
- 6 Ways to Encourage Creation and Innovation (worldofinnovations.net)
- Creativity Requires A Culture That Respects Effort And Failure (businessinsider.com)
- Tap your employee creativity (tarungill.com)
- 2 Ways to Instantly Boost Creativity in the Office (business2community.com)
- There’s A Critical Difference Between Creativity And Innovation (businessinsider.com)
When faced with something new, we usually look for similarities to the familiar. And the more commonalities we find, the more readily we accept the new.
But is creating similarities to the familiar always a good approach? Surprisingly, the answer may be no. Following analogies too closely can cause similarities to remain undetected or, even worse, be falsely assumed to exist.
Alternatively, a close-fitting analogy may make the new seem overly familiar. Concentrating too much on similarities can cause organizations to overlook what is unique about the new — particularly those aspects that might offer important advantages and opportunities.
Organizations can rely too heavily and too long on a favored analogy, which carries significant risks. One analogy might be a poor fit relative to others; by using it too long, the company might deprive itself of the insight a better analogy would provide. This may result in diminished competitive advantage, since rivals that use better analogies can adapt more rapidly to change and innovation.
Lessons for Leaders
To better understand the full meaning of anything new, employ a wide range of diverse analogies and maintain an open mind. This is much easier to achieve with a staff that can draw from a broad spectrum of work, personal, educational and cultural experiences. Depth of experience in one area may be more harmful than helpful, as it may prevent the richly diverse analogies that breadth of experience frequently engenders.
Avoid relying too heavily on certain analogies and overlooking the benefits of others. Developing a list of diverse analogies makes it less likely that any specific one will be associated with a particular individual or group, limiting its perceived applicability.
To build momentum during the assimilation phase, concentrate on analogies that emphasize the familiar. Focus on similarity of function, rather than appearance. Obvious surface features may obscure important similarities at more structural levels.
Be prepared to change analogies as the new technology becomes more familiar. Transition to analogies that highlight what is distinctive about the innovation. This will help ensure that high-potential attributes are not overlooked.
See the complete article related to this post
- Change Management: Using analogies to overcome resistance (business.financialpost.com)
- Are analogies the best way to describe innovations? (smartplanet.com)
- Analogies and Innovation (enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com)