Leadership

    Changing Innovation Culture by Doing — Three Reasons It Doesn’t Happen

    basadur_large_2Innovation culture doesn’t change with assessment or analysis.

    You can learn a great deal about who you are and what your culture is like with the various assessment tools, but knowing isn’t changing. I’m a huge fan of KEYS, FourSight, and other assessment tools but they are not the answer.

    Training can help, but training alone will not do the job either.

    What changes innovation culture then?

    Doing. You change culture by Doing. 

    When employees are empowered to solve problems and those solutions are put into play, it’s motivating. It changes hearts and minds. And it changes them faster than anything else. Min Basadur says it’s the only way a culture will change. I agree with Min. Min’s been around the innovation space. Starting at P&G he’s done some amazing work both commercially and as a researcher of innovation process. I caught up with Min a few weeks ago at the CPSI conference and asked him about changing culture by doing, see his pithy remarks in a video clip here.

    So, why aren’t more innovation culture change initiatives based on doing real world problem solving projects? Here are three reasons it’s doesn’t happen:

    1. Leadership wants a culture change, but doesn’t actually want to change behaviour. It’s a bit like Rob Ford the Toronto Mayor. He’ll go to rehab but when he comes out no change has occurred.  You have to want to change for change to occur. Leadership needs to empower innovation managers to do more. Too much controlling leadership is almost worse than a laissez-faire attitude. Leaders need to ask that particular problems be solved, and then, get the hell out of the way. Then they need to embrace results be they positive or not.
    2. Not enough problem finding. It’s counter-intuitive but really, if you’re not looking for problems you’re missing the biggest opportunities for innovation. Why is this not done? Lack of courage. This is often the reason cultures don’t change. I’m speaking of the fear of facing the very toughest, thorniest challenges. We are all great avoiders of those things that frankly require a lot of very hard work. Creative problem solving is not about water guns and balloons. At the heart of it, it’s about finding – actively seeking — very fearsome challenges and taking the time to research, analyze, and properly frame just what the problem is. Challenge mapping can be arduous work, and, it has a gigantic payoff once you pay that price. This is the work that is rarely done well. People are so anxious to get into idea generation they short shrift the pre-work necessary to make it truly effective.
    3. Procrastination in the form of culture assessment. Look, I’m all for innovation culture assessment, I do it! It can be a valuable step in learning what exactly needs to change in an innovation culture. However, a company that spends six months to a year assessing culture is avoiding change. This is innovation procrastination. Do the assessments, AND, get started on a project at the same time.

    KILN USA is firmly in the camp of changing culture by doing, that’s why we invented a hands-on tool called IdeaKeg, and a project “do” cycle called FuseTrail. But don’t listen to us, listen to the wise words of an old master, the most successful innovation advisor I know — Min Basadur — and start changing your innovation culture by doing. Per Min — find a thorny problem, research it, challenge map it, jam some ideas, and get into action.

     

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    Six Ideas for Creative Action

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    People Got To Be Free

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    Support RAMI

    We Can’t Get Serious About Manufacturing Soon Enough. I support RAMI. I read with interest a post on the congressional blog The Hill. In a rare example of cross party cooperation it would appear that the Senate is taking action on supporting growth in our manufacturing sector. Do read the piece but in essence the idea is to set up a national network for manufacturing innovation. This would build on the pilot center/hubs for innovation already set up by the Obama administration. Kudos to Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri). I like your style gentlemen — first for working in a true bipartisan manner, and secondly for doing it on something so important. The bill is called Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI). Congressman Tom Reed (R-New York) and

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    Eleven Weird Ways to Create Innovation Culture

    Eleven Weird Ways to Create Innovation Culture Lately I’ve been seeing the glass half empty when it comes to innovation topics. I want everyone to know that, wow, can I ever be positive. In fact, highly creative and insightful, when it comes to inspiring innovation. Are you an empowered leader who wants to make something innovative happen? Try these Eleven Weird Ways — they work to improve the innovation culture. Surprise and delight the team. There’s nothing like a good surprise to inject new energy into a group. It can be really simple stuff. I once gave everyone on the staff a pair of Ray Bans. Smiles everywhere the rest of the day, and they wore those shades for years. Have

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    Employee Abuse is Poison to Innovation

    Abuse Poisons Innovation Efforts — and Innovation Experts Take Fairness as a Given The Five Forms of Employee Abuse (see below) One of the nice things about working for yourself is you don’t have to put up with abuse. Yes, sometimes I’m out there scrambling, sometimes clients are very demanding — but that’s a small price to pay for living or dying on the strength of my own ideas and work. I was reminded yesterday that the vast majority of people work for a company. A good friend suffered a demeaning and unfair incident at work — and it was devastating. I recalled the many times in my early career when similar things happened to me. It occurred to me

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    The Innovation Metronome

    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

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    Eight Politically Incorrect Statements About Innovation

    I asked myself a different question today: What do I believe about innovation but simply avoid saying to be politically correct? What am I not saying? At the risk of being labeled a curmudgeon I’ve decided to state some things I believe to be true about innovation which may offend. Innovation is difficult and it doesn’t happen enough because of these eight impediments, so, this needs said. Eight Politically Incorrect Statements About Innovation: Top Management doesn’t understand creativity. They say they want it but when they experience it the gut reaction is to disavow it, restrain it, fire it. Most top managers are uncomfortable with classically creative people. A lot of people with innovation in their title do little or no

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    A New Idea for Black Friday

    The concept of Black Friday has me thinking about what we reward as consumers. My idea of shopping has nothing to do with sharp elbows, crowds, or even bargains. The kind of shopping I like is when I find something truly unique, really special and creative or innovative, at a small shop or family business. Best for me if it’s made in America, and of high quality craftsmanship, to me, this is real value — and I’ll buy that, I’ll reward that. That kind of shopping is increasingly hard to do. As I watched CNN this morning I was a bit amazed by all the “news” around the concept of Black Friday. Man-on-the-spot interviews at shopping malls, traffic reports from WalMart,

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    Moisturize for Innovation

    I have a beautiful Martin guitar. It has a wonderful tone and it’s easy to play, it’s a love relationship. It’s a well engineered, and under some conditions, a quite delicate instrument. As the winter weather descends on the midwest I’m remembering I need to keep it moisturized. Yes, moisturized. And yes, your innovation environment needs moisturized in order to make beautiful music. Five years ago I left my prized guitar out of it’s case on a stand in my living room. I had no idea that the very dry air in my apartment would suck all the water out of that rosewood and maple. I got up one morning and started strumming — and it sounded terrible. I flipped

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