Eleven Weird Ways to Create Innovation Culture

    weird11lightbulbEleven 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.

    1. 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.
    2. Have a boring meeting in an exciting place. Get offsite, combine it with a happy hour. Careful, you might have some fun.
    3. Forgive all meetings for a week. Better yet, Forbid all meetings for a week. You might be surprised at how much actual work gets done. You could also limit meetings to 10 minutes as an alternative.
    4. Give a random award. Recognize something good that isn’t earth shattering. Get an actual plaque, get it engraved, etc. It’s a bit of fun, which never hurts.
    5. Give introverts a chance to speak. Take a pause in the usual wild west of a meeting where everyone talks over everyone else. Facilitate more reflection. Give people a chance to speak without fear of being cut off — give them the floor until they give up the floor. Allow pauses. If you do this often enough those quiet people will start talking.
    6. Say Yes to a truly risky, but promising, project. If all you ever hear is No it can be defeating. Say yes to some kind of lean-ish trial of a concept that is out there on the edge. Not so much risk if you manage it, and who knows, maybe this is what you should be doing all the time.
    7. Give somebody a chance. Promote somebody who isn’t traditional. There are promising and talented people who don’t have advanced degrees or the typical background for managers at your organization. You’re missing a trick — give somebody a chance — and then support their success. The message this sends the entire group is “talent is appreciated here.” Find that diamond in the rough.
    8. Remove bureaucracy. It’s good to have an innovation process. But let’s face it sometimes these elaborate processes get in the way of faster iteration. Look for ways to streamline, look for ways that allow people to move things along on their own without too many roadblocks. Consider a temporary hiatus — but give people a crazy deadline.
    9. Celebrate failure, really. You’ve heard this tip from others. It’s so freakin rare anyone actually does it. Failure can be heartbreaking and when you don’t put a cap on it, it’s even more heart breaking because it festers under the surface. Throw an actual party, with Champagne.
    10. Doughnuts. That’s right, show up with doughnuts. Get some really good ones, and a nice variety of types. Especially helpful when coping with a tense issue.
    11. Have fun with a serious conflict. Conflicts get personal way to fast. If you can bring it to the surface, smile about it, do something to remove the fear, calm the nerves, and discuss it without big implications or personal attacks, wow, you might just get over a huge hump. You probably need a neutral facilitator to help, get the help. Remember, unless conflict is resolved you’ll never be high function.

    Bonus Idea: Buy everyone a copy of Jack’s Notebook!


    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

    Read More..

    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:

    Read More..

    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

    Read More..

    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

    Read More..

    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

    Read More..