Idea Generation

    The Innovation Metronome

    martinroyrogers

    Like a good guitar player — innovation has rhythm.

    There is no achievement without hard work.

    There is no breakthrough innovation without hard work.

    Innovation happens when you practice with discipline, with rhythm.

    We sometimes get lucky with things and shortcuts present themselves. Even then, one has to be ready to recognise luck when it’s sitting in front of you — on its hind legs begging for a ham bone. Even recognising a breakthrough innovation opportunity takes the hard work of understanding the market, the context. Call that deep research.

    Usually innovation is a bit like the guitar lesson I had yesterday. I take a weekly lesson from a kind church lady. Donna is a great teacher, she swings, in the musical sense. I emphasize the kind aspect of her personality because I’m a problem student. I’ve had a six year affair with the guitar — it’s not gone well. Pure frustration in many ways. My fingers just don’t to go into those shapes. The complexity of reading music is another layer of my ineptness. And I have creeping arthritis in my hands. None the less I’ve been plugging away, week after week. Sometimes practicing a little, sometimes a decent amount. The weekly lesson keeps my hand in — and the callouses on my fingers smarting. The lessons help me structure my practice. Knowing I have to play for Donna, I try to prepare. I do this even though sometimes I despair of ever reaching a more proficient level.

    I’ve been trying to learn the old Carole King song, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Don’t ask me why. It’s not a simple three chord rock tune. It’s got a bit more complexity in the melody– something fairly easy for someone who can really play — but not at all for me. Women cry when they hear that song. I cry trying to play it.

    Yesterday something magical happened in the flow of my lesson, I had a breakthrough. The penny dropped and I was, suddenly, playing that Carole King song at a new level. It was a joy to realise that a lot of work has finally paid off. I have new hope in my head and my heart. It’s a great feeling. Now I really want to play even more.

    Corporate Innovation is no different. The breakthrough will happen if you keep plugging, and I mean relentlessly. Four cycles a year at the front end is nearly the minimum. You need a metronome to remind you to keep playing, keep practicing. Fighting through the mental fatigue and frustration is the dues you have to pay to get there. It doesn’t happen in a day. Don’t think a one day idea generation session is going to get you there. You have to think about it everyday, and the team has to think about it everyday. Working away at the challenge of innovation needs to have a metronome. A rhythm. If you keep after it, everyday, alone and together, together and alone — tick, tick, tick — eventually a breakthrough will present itself.

    If you are an innovation director, leader, or manager you’d do yourself a favor to buy a metronome, put it on your desk and turn it on at least once a day. Remind yourself to get into the flow of the practice. Then remind your team. Then get after it.

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    Leaders Hate the Concept of Creativity

    SNARK ALERT I’m not trying to be snarky. I am snarky. I’ve always been snarky.  I like being snarky, it’s fun. Here’s the problem: Being snarky is a bit like being the boy that cried wolf. When you’re being a smart ass just for practice you often stretch the truth. Okay, I often throw the truth out the window to be funny or to shock — but not in this blogg! As a creativity and innovation writer I suppress my inner Snark in order to be taken seriously. But now I think I’m doing you a disservice. The value of SNARK is it can be a wakeup call. As an innovation thought leader, I’m here to help. You can improve, you can

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    Ten Ideas for Using Innovation Film Clips

    I’ve written an article on Innovation in movies – Inspiring Innovation Films: a Top Ten List.  It’s been published on the Innovation Excellence portal — I’d be most grateful if you’d read it and comment over there. Today’s post is a value add to that article with some ideas on how to use creativity and innovation clips in projects and meetings. If you’re an innovation educator, manager, or team leader you may want to consider using clips as training and/or stimulus tools. I’m a big one for keeping things entertaining no matter what you’re doing. Movie clips are a great way to do that. Here are Ten Ideas on how to integrate film clips into an innovation project: Send out a

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    Indigan Storytellers Debut

    I had the pleasure of participating in the debut performance evening of the Indigan Storytellers group last Friday night. As Rocky Balboa once said “you shoulda been there.” It was an intimate evening of exquisitely told stories coupled with fine hand-crafted whiskey. The location was Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan. The room was packed and a good time was had by all. I report on the event here for two reasons. First, because Storytelling as an art form is creativity of the highest order. Innovators of all kinds have much to learn about the craft as a method to elaborate new inventions, messages, and brands. Learning how to write and then perform a 10 minute story is an exercise

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    Ideational Speaker, Gregg Fraley

    I do keynotes on creativity and innovation topics — and this is not something I hide. It’s all over my website and I do my best to promote my speaking on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in my blog postings. So, it’s not unusual for me to be confronted — at a cocktail party or a business meeting — with the comment: So you’re a “Motivational Speaker.” It’s a fair observation, but it’s really…inexact when it comes to describing what I actually do. It’s not Wrong, but there’s more to my speaking than motivation. My talks are about ideas, so really, I’m an Ideational Speaker.  Yes, I make an effort to motivate people to be more creative and innovative. So, I

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    Need Ideas for Creative Alternatives to Government Paralysis

    I’m sick of having a dysfunctional government. I know it’s a complex power struggle. I know there are many points of view as to why this dysfunction exists. I think this crazy partial government shutdown is probably going to happen, and to me this signals a new low. I’m not interested, right now, in a right or left opinion of whose fault it is, or why this is necessary. I think both sides share the blame in this, and, it will require both sides to return to a productive government. I want ideas. I want to focus on ideas that can motivate those in government right now. Before new elections. For years now, it would seem the only thing the

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    Why Structured Creativity for Business?

    I was doing a training session this past week and I was confronted by one of my students. I was giving an overview of CPS* which is a framework for structured creative problem solving. Someone asked the obvious, and in a somewhat confrontational way — Can this really help our business? The implication was that learning a structured creative process was a waste of time. It’s a good question. Why would you pay for expensive training if you believe that creativity can’t be structured? If you believe that you can’t capture that lightening in a bottle, it would be hard to see the value of a structured creative process like CPS. But you can capture that lightning in a bottle. In

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    The Value of a “Cross Domain” View

      Dr. Orin Davis (@DrOrinDavis) has written up two more short pieces — essentially his reflections from the talks of Rebecca Henderson and Dan Pink at the recent World Innovation Forum. His comments on Pink are somewhat provocative, so, be aware I do not share Orin’s views exactly. Orin is a well read academic (and practitioner as well) and he knows a lot about the wide array of literature that exists for creativity and innovation — that’s why I’ m publishing his insightful work here. His critique of Pink is interesting to me because I was not aware of who Pink borrows from, and, if he is borrowing faithfully to the original research. That said, I think there’s a real value for people

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    Why Not? Keeping the Creative Door Open

    When it comes to sparking the imagination, much is made of that lovely phrase, “What If?” It’s a good one, no doubt. Just the mention of the phrase has folks going down a more imaginative path. However, quite often, we get to the end of that imaginative path, and, good news, we have an idea in mind. We might express it, we might not. Often, instead of moving forward with self-expression, like writing it up, talking to others, or taking some action, we just let it go. Why? Lots of reasons. It might seem impractical. Or expensive. Or just hard to do. Or, we might start thinking about what everybody is going to say about it, and mercy sakes, don’t

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    KILN Continues to Innovate Innovation Services

    I’m off to the FEI show (Front End of Innovation) in Boston this week. In my view it’s the most serious innovation conference in the world, and the USA edition features speakers and participants from a who’s who of international organizations. I’m particularly interested in hearing Denise Morrison CEO of Campbell Soup about their use of culture in the innovation process, and also Nelson Farris of Nike about corporate storytelling. It will be great to catch up with Idea Management System vendors like CogniStreamer, and innovation service firms like Ideas To Go and Maddock Douglas. They’re always doing something new. I’m glad the show is in Boston. After the recent troubles it feels appropriate that a conference dedicated to positive change is

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