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    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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    The Year is Half Over, Where is Your Innovation?

    The Year is Half Over, Where is Your Innovation? Underway? Running like a Swiss Watch? Missing in Action? Innovation Peeps: The year is nearly half over. Okay, in a month it will be officially half over. I’m doing this with seven months left this year so that you might get a running start on an innovation initiative — an “FEI Cycle” that you can complete by year end. FEI stands for Front-End-of-Innovation. This is the perfect time to take a half-year checkpoint on your innovation efforts because there is still time to get some significant work done in 2014. On July 1, you’ll have six months left to get something done, or, complete something already underway. Consider the next thirty days your

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    People Got To Be Free

    Power. It’s not something people talk about in the context of innovation. They talk about Leadership, Change, Management, and Teams — but they rarely talk about what’s behind all of those concepts, Power. I’ve been making a habit lately of talking about the unsaid in innovation, and power is a huge unsaid in innovation. I’m going to have to be a little bit snarky here. I’ll balance that by citing those gurus of innovation, The Rascals (who were in fact genuinely kind hearted guys who worked for civil rights). But first, my citation: Power, wielded with a heavy hand, is the enemy of innovation. Power, aligned with values people believe in, is the enabler of innovation. The higher up an

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    Improv and Innovation Do Mix

    Improv and Innovation do mix — and it’s not funny. You don’t have to be funny for Improv training to be useful in innovation. There are two things holding back more business people from pushing the Improv training button: 1.) They believe that Improv is difficult and that you need to have a funny bone, and, 2.) They believe that while Improv might be a good soft skill there is no direct and near term benefit to innovation (or other corporate goals). Classic improvisation games can help solve serious business problems and you don’t have to be particularly clever or funny. The benefits of using Improv — if done properly — are immediate. If you want the specifics of how,

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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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    Get the Innovation Party Started

    Can we just Get the Innovation Party Started already? One of the most frustrating things about being an Innovation consultant is watching organizations get stuck in a mud pit of inaction around innovation. Call it procrastination, lack of corporate will, a culture of bureaucracy — they all amount to the same thing: no productive innovation work done. I see it over and over, it’s as common as a head cold and just as unpleasant. I’ve written about this before — today’s post has a bit of a new wrinkle. Here’s the message: Have a party and get started. I mean it literally. Make innovation an ongoing company party. The common suggestions around how to circumvent this…innovation infarction…are many. They include:

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    Six Reasons Not To Fire Steve Jobs

    Ask John Sculley, the man who fired Steve Jobs — would he do it again? Probably. As Michael Corleone once said about a fellow mobster taking sides against him just as he took power — “it’s the smart play.” MBA’s are trained to manage, and that usually doesn’t mean disrupt. Let’s be frank, people who think different (high innovators on the KAI scale, a measure of cognitive style) are a pain in the ass. Even those who are very self-aware and have trained themselves in social graces eventually show their true colours in classic corporate settings. They can’t help it. They are less problem solvers than they are problem finders. Many of you know that I recently posted a piece

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    Scaffolding to Better Ideas #2 (Getting More From Virtual Idea Generation)

    Virtual idea generation is a growing trend in innovation. A trend I wholeheartedly endorse because it widens the cohort that normally contribute to “brainstorming” efforts. It gives people time to think and then post ideas as time allows in the nooks and crannies of their day-to-day jobs. It’s a great way to make idea generation and innovation part of the culture of an organization. It’s usually done with an Idea Management System (IMS) but in a pinch, it can be done with something like GoogleDocs or even email. Basically, you put out a focused innovation question and you ask for ideas. The virtual session could be as short as a few days, or as long as a few months. In

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    Why Stepping Up as Innovation Team Leader is Insane

    It’s easy to understand why many managers are not interested at all in heading up an innovation team. Saying no is the sane choice. The truth is Innovation Team Leadership is usually a thankless job. It’s often a job on top of another job. In other words, a lot of extra work spent on innovation initiatives means it’s a killer to keep up with the business-as-usual-operational job. So, that’s usually enough to kill innovation leadership motivation. But wait, there’s more! Not only is it a ton of work, it’s high risk. Many, even most, innovation efforts fail. Failure doesn’t look good come job and salary review time. People spout a lot of happy talk about learning from failure but the

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