invention

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..

Minimum Wage Boost in Silicon Valley Ups the Cinderella Factor

Let’s put politics aside for a moment and pretend the minimum wage is not a party-centric issue. Let’s look at it from a pragmatic perspective if possible. Raising the minimum wage in Silicon Valley (beyond San Jose which has already done so) is a very important and rational thing to do for the economic health of the valley, California, and the USA economy as a whole. I’m sure a lot could be written about the class warfare aspect of this, but to me, the innovation guy, that’s not the key issue. The issue is continuing the incredible innovation that happens in Silicon Valley. As of March 2014 it’s 87% more expensive to live in Silicon Valley than the USA average.

Read More..

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

Read More..

Six Reasons Why Employees Shun Innovation

Leadership 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

Read More..

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

Read More..

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

Read More..

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

Read More..

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

Read More..

Love a Meeting Planner Day

As Valentines Day approaches I’m reminded that everybody needs love. Even Meeting Planners. I’ve worked with many different meeting planners over the years and it’s a tough job. Endless details. Complex challenges. Ego’s to manage. Negotiations. Speakers to hire (ahem). Clients to please. Sore feet. Migranes. Exhaustion. Pre-meeting anxiety, post meeting collapses. I do appreciate Meeting Planners, but I wouldn’t want to be one! And always the unexpected. No matter how well planned an event is, something always happens that is unpredictable. Meeting Planners are often very creative in resolving problems. So, today January 30th, is Love a Meeting Planner Day. Why? Because I said so. I declare it. How to show the love today?  Here are 10 ways: Thank

Read More..