From the over 4,000 unique links shared on the Twitter #innovation community in the past three weeks, a number of stories will help you manage your innovation efforts.
How Do You Create A Culture of Innovation?
Scott Anthony, author of The Little Black Book Of Innovation, breaks innovative culture down to four basic elements:
The Right People “Natural” innovators have actually become that way through learned behaviors. These learned behaviors include:
- Questioning to impose or remove constraints
- Networking to broaden thinking
- Observing to find surprising stimuli
- Experimenting to purposely complicate their life, which then spurs the other three behaviors.
The Right Way to Reward and Punish First you need to find the right person to reward: “Look for innovators that invest time to understand their target market, think holistically, design and execute smart experiments, and demonstrate a willingness to change course.” As for rewards, the best seem to be blend of monetary rewards, growth opportunities, and recognition. Most importantly this takes place in a failure-tolerant atmosphere.
A Common Language “Having everyone understand what innovation is — and what it is not — is critical for culture change.” You should also have categories of innovation that matter to your company so that each category can be measured and managed distinctly.
Leadership Organizations looks to leaders as role models. What they say matters, but what they do matters even more. Leaders who actively seek to make their culture more tolerant of innovation directly shape the context in which innovation can occur.
Who in Your Company Can Say "Yes" to Innovation, Without Permission?
Innovation is often pushed from executive to operating level because it is seen like most other projects. But innovation is different; it requires a hands on management and active engagement of an executive sponsor. Who is this sponsor? The person who can say “yes” without permission. To find them ask yourself
- Who can say yes to dedicating people, money and time for a new idea without permission?
- Who can decide to say yes to spend even more money, people and time without permission?
- If the new idea goes against the grain, who can provide protection for the idea and team?
With the support of this sponsor and active management, your innovation will be better prepared to brave the front lines of the business battlefield.
The Big Innovation Leap
Taking on innovation can be a scary endeavor. Let the following suggestions be a guide to better manage your step forward.
- Talk versus Action Develop a strategy but allow for adjustments once the action has started. If this is hard for you to do, team up with people who can help.
- Education Nothing is scarier than not knowing. Educate those around you so they can understand what your innovative ideas really mean.
- Common Language Just like Anthony’s point, make sure everyone has the same definition of innovation so that everyone is on the same page.
- Communicate Communicate frequently and clearly both internally within your team and externally to stakeholders outside of the team.
What Doesn’t Motivate Creativity Can Kill It
Creating an atmosphere that harbors innovation inside of an organization is tricky; too much or too little management kills the creativity. However, successful managers of innovation have found a way to balance these four factors:
- Goals Telling people exactly what to do and how to do it constrains innovation. Instead, give clear direction for one strategic goal but with plenty of leeway in how to get there.
- Evaluation Both strong evaluation pressure and lack of feedback lead to lower levels of creativity. The happy medium is a loop of continuous feedback and evaluation that acts as a support structure for innovators.
- Reward Research has shown “good” rewards “provide information about employees' competence and the value of their work, or enable them to do something that they really wanted to do.”
- Pressure Pressure can easily fall to one extreme. To keep it balanced, remember it is comprised of level, form and meaning. For example, a high level job, on a tight timeline, constructed in a positive atmosphere where you will be rewarded doesn’t create “bad” pressure.
Until next week, keep innovating!