Marketing

    Six Reasons Why Employees Shun Innovation

    stop_hand_vgfLeadership is Uninvolved with Innovation. Yes, I just said that.

    Take me out to the wall and shoot me — but in many companies this is a major problem.

    I used to frequent a bagel shop on the south side of Chicago. It wasn’t a chain. Just a small business with great tasting bagels in a good location. I popped in one day about 9:00 am for a raisin bagel with cream cheese and was a bit startled to find myself the only customer in the store. I remarked to the young lady behind the counter that it was pretty quiet for that time of day. She said, with no irony, “isn’t that great!”

    I’ll skip the fake ‘I’m so shocked’ bit. This is very common. I blame it on uninvolved management. Leadership, ownership, and management were asleep at the bagel shop wheel.

    You can’t run a business on automatic pilot — nor an innovation program.

    Large organisation’s often run innovation programs on auto pilot. In theory, on the surface, everything looks in place. A process has been defined. A team is hired and ready. There’s an experienced manager. The team has adequate resources. Yet no magic. The team should be motivated to innovate — it’s their job — but the innovation produced is unexciting incremental improvement stuff. Not wrong, just not what that company needs to build a future that includes significant growth. Why does this happen so regularly? Six reasons…

    Six Reasons Why Employees Shun Innovation

    1. No emotional engagement. When it’s your Dad who owns the bagel shop, you’re involved. You know that every dollar rung up at the register means the difference between peanut butter or steak.  Organizations think it’s obvious why employees should get on board for an innovation initiative. It should be obvious, but too often individual employees have no real connection to ownership or any emotional tie to the companies success. Leaders need to get in the trenches with the working innovation team now and then, people need to see that you care.
    2. No significant reward or recognition. When an organization takes its people for granted and doesn’t recognize their efforts, people lose interest. A little recognition can go a long way to reassure. Fiscal rewards are not a panacea, but in this economy a bonus for a money-making innovation is welcome. Money is a sign of respect. Don’t let your people feel like Rodney Dangerfield. They’ll leave, or, worse, they’ll stay and won’t care.
    3. No communication. It’s as common as pigeons. An idea generation session is done (aka brainstorm) and hundreds of ideas are put up on Post-Its. Then employees hear Nothing about what’s been done with the ideas. This is tragic and stupid. Even if the message is: “there was nothing there we could use” people need to hear it. If they don’t hear it they’ll assume it was a waste of time (and they’d be right). Why not make idea rankings and usage visible and transparent? Why not pick a promising idea and say, Yes.
    4. No trust. People hold back when they don’t trust leadership. They hold back ideas they think they might leverage for a new job. Or, they actively or unconsciously sabotage innovation efforts to “get even.” What breaks trust? Bottom line: lies. Honest leadership may not always be liked, but will at least be trusted to do what they say they’ll do. It’s so fundamental it ought to be number one on this list.
    5. No time. People need time to work on new things. It doesn’t always have to be a lot of time, but leadership needs to find ways to put innovation tasks into every day work. If they don’t Innovation simply won’t happen.
    6. No positive vibes. This is really a holistic measure that includes all the above, but also something more. Good vibes happen when there is good value for everyone involved in an enterprise. Good bagels right? If the product or service is of genuine value, you can  build good vibes up from there.

    These six reasons have a lot to do with innovation culture, or lack thereof eh? Get the culture right and you’ve got a chance. If you are failing one or more of the six reasons above, you’ve got work to do.

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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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    Take Advantage — Innovate More for Less

    I’ve done 385 general interest creativity and innovation posts in the last few years. This post is different — it contains a commercial offer — albeit a fairly innovative one. If you’re not interested please ignore this post. Here’s the offer – I’ve decided to double the value I provide to my customers by offering a good old fashioned two-for-one deal. Why? I want to generate more buzz about my service offerings. To generate more buzz I want the perception of my value to be exceptional. So exceptional that people will talk , tweet, and refer. There is no sleight of hand here, I’ll be working twice for one fee. For both services delivered I won’t be cutting preparation time or the customization I

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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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    What’s Your Innovation Plan for 2014?

    It’s that time of year again. Time to think about what your innovation plan for 2014 is going to be. Have you done anything more than ponder this question? Have you even noodled about with it? Written anything down? The time is NOW! It doesn’t really matter if you have on your personal beret or your business fedora — if you don’t plan, and soon, you won’t be starting 2014 with anything like momentum. What you want, at the very least, is a general statement that focuses your efforts, and a breakdown of how you’ll get there through the next four quarters. If you’ve never done this before, I would suggest that you put creativity, creative problem solving, and innovation

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    Reading Widely Means More Dots to Connect

    People ask me what I read. I think this question is inspired by my citing some arcane fact or that I make a weird connection now and then. I am a voracious reader, but I think what I actually read might surprise. Most of it is NOT directly about creativity and innovation (that’s a way to guarantee you’re boring!) Reading widely provides more dots to connect. Broadly, I’m thinking I’m improving my database by reading a lot of varied and weird content. There is some science to this; one can make more conceptual blends if one has more to blend. And, concept blending, new connections, are where innovation comes from. So, this is a snapshot of what I’m reading, for

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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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    Top 40 Innovation Blogger? (Top 10!)

    Precious readers, greetings from the dark night, where I write, jet-lagged, arthritis-nagged, caffiene-jagged — but writing for you, once again, trying to provide insight, information, and ultimately value about this wacky idea of innovation. Please forgive the somewhat naval gazing aspect of this post. The good news for you is over the past year you may have missed some of my more interesting posts and the bullet list below provides some quick links to stuff you might find interesting. A request for help: Every year, Innovation Excellence, a premier portal for innovation content, has a popularity contest style “Top 40″ Innovation Bloggers of the year listing. I admit, I wish to be on the list. I wasn’t last year and

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    When Culture Matters…for Innovation

    Back in those glory days at the University of Cincinnati, I was assigned a lovely little textbook to read for Freshman English class called “The Elements of Style” (by E.B. White and William Strunk). In a nutshell it’s all about how to write clearly. It provides succinct advice with spot-on examples. It’s a smallish book which easily fits into your jacket pocket. I read it, used it, and have refferred to it hundreds of times over the years. I treasure that slim little book. I’ve just found a similar treasure — but having to do with cross-cultural communications.  It’s official title is When Culture Matters, the 55 minute guide to better cross-cultural communication, by Indy Neogy.* True to its title,

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    State of Creativity Forum is an Innovation Accelerant

    I’ve been involved* these past two years with a creativity conference in Oklahoma, now called the State of Creativity Forum. This conference has energy to spare, it feels like an accelerating fire of innovative energy. Last year’s event (for a summary look at this post) exploded with dynamic speakers, cultural, and artist happenings. Even the governor, Mary Fallin, was there to support the notion that creativity and innovation is how Oklahoma moves forward. This year features Sir Ken Robinson and Peter Diamandis of X Prize fame — and that’s just the start. It’s all taking place November 13th in Oklahoma City. By all means, if you want a great taster, or even a major feast of creative stimulation, this is

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