Innovation is a topic I have been interested in for a long time but it is only in the last few years that innovation has reached the title of senior executives. Most likely because our world continues to change at a fast pace and we all need to be creative and try new things or our organizations, our products and services, and/or our roles will be left in the dust. You only have to look at newspapers to see an obvious example of change, but there are many others — video stores, post offices, libraries.
I started a conversation this morning with my monthly breakfast group (a bunch of interesting thinkers and achievers) by saying, “I’m looking for someone who can talk about what organizations need in order to be innovative — what needs to be in place in their environment to stimulate innovation and new ways of doing things”. This spawned a whole discussion around “what is innovation” — incremental continuous improvement? new products (like snowboards, post-it notes or ipods in their day). We then started talking about what needed to be in place to encourage innovation — leadership championship, climate of allowing mistakes (but then we digressed into successes coming from learning experiences/mistakes), time (Google’s 20% of your time to play with what interests you), and then breakfast was over…. so I’m still thinking about what needs to be added to the list and hope you will help me articulate the ideal environment for stimulating innovation by adding comments.
In the meantime, one of my buddies pointed me to the PwC Innovation Blog by Sheldon Laube, Chief Innovation Officer for PricewaterhouseCoopers whose job is to “accelerate innovation by inspiring new ideas and reducing the barriers to their implementation”. His most recent post is about how recognition is something special and shows that what really motivates people in his organization is professional development and networking activities. I love his post about the Gorilla in the Room, partly because he talks about the video that I have Dave Snowden show in the past, but especially for articulating the following,
“often companies are missing what is right in front of them and don’t even realize it. As this article points out, “breakthroughs are less about the act of inventing new things than they are the art of recognizing “happy accidents”… at the end of the day, if a company doesn’t have the internal processes and structures in place to spot the happy accidents already taking place, why will it do a better job recognizing any new, great ideas that it receives through crowdsourcing, open innovation efforts or other methodologies?”