Osborn-Parnes model

The Risk of Not Innovating

1d1d20cI recently was a guest blogger for Gibson Insurance and I wrote this piece about the risk of Not Innovating.

I’ll make the point again here — with fewer words. For more detail, read my post over at Gibson.

Risk Aversion is a Risk Itself

Many leaders pull back on innovation programs because of expenses, and, fear of change. They settle for small changes and improvements and continue to look at innovation as if it’s extra work. They pay lip service to innovation and waste time doing culture assessments. They also spend precious time developing a precise process for innovation. Cultural awareness of the climate for innovation is a good thing, and a defined process is as well, but don’t spend a year doing it. Instead, get started on innovation projects.

Learn as you go!

What leaders risk by pulling their innovation punches is — everything.

There are some businesses and industries where change happens slowly. Leaders in those sectors can get by being very careful — for many years sometimes. And yet, invariably, someone, a start-up or a competitor, changes the paradigm. If you wait until that moment to start innovating it will probably be too late. You won’t have grown the skill set. You won’t have a team in place. You won’t have a pipeline of ideas and nascent products and services.

So, the simple solution: invest in innovation training and programs. Make innovation part of your culture with innovation projects. Projects are how you change your culture. In fact, nothing else will change your culture.

Bottom line: Leaders — take more risk on innovation because your organizations future depends on it.

Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d” Depression in Innovation Projects

Innovation and Depression …Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d” Depression… Nobody talks about the dark emotions related to innovation. You hear about the emotional high of a big “aha” moment. Or, less frequently, about the “oh crap” moment when a project hits a brick wall. But nobody talks about how personal battles with the dark side impact innovation. How many promising projects have gone up in smoke because the creator, the innovator, the project leader, or a team member lost faith in a dark moment? Losing heart for something you want to do can happen when a wave of negative emotion carries you away. It’s why people give up. Emotional highs and lows are part of life. I’m not




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Dance Your Challenge

Shake Your Booty The Creativity and Innovation point of this blog takes about three paragraphs to develop, so business readers, let me tell you a brief story to set it up. I was having dinner this week with Gary Schwartz, a fine actor and Improv person who was blowing through Chicago to promote his new children’s book, The King of Average.  Gary studied with a hero of mine, Viola Spolin (he’s the leading expert on her games and methods). As we talked about Improv and I heard some of his stories I was particularly impressed with one story having to do with “getting into the body” of a role. The Story: So Gary was playing the role of a Roman




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Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016

Authentically Different Conference In recent years I’ve become a bit anti-conference. I still go to some but I find the formats tired. The formula favors big name authors and speakers who sometimes miss the mark. The agenda is so jammed you don’t have time to talk to your peers. The social events are fun, but a bit… forced. So, you may be surprised when I bend over backwards to promote Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016.  The event is going to be held at the TechNexus accelerator in the River North area. Chicago area innovators and intrapreneurs, take note. June 22! This conference is authentically different. And highly useful if you are a real working Intrapreneur. 90% of the conference attendees will be




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Nine Ways to Play at Work

Nine Ways to Play At Work (see list below) The idea that one should invoke a sense of play around challenges is not a new one. Tim Brown of IDEO did that great TED speech on play, and there have been several more TED play-centric talks (Stuart Brown, John Cohn, Sue Palmer) all variations on the theme. Sunni Brown’s talk on Doodling is a personal favorite because she gets specific about how one can begin to be more creatively playful with problem solving. An emerging trend in business is using improvisation games as the basis for team building and problem solving. The work of Del Close, who shaped the serious play of long form Improv and Viola Spolin, who invented




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10 Essential Elements of an Innovation Mandate

Getting a Mandate to Innovate is Key Larger companies typically have an innovation process in place. They don’t always work, but the majority of the Fortune 1000 has some kind of innovation process or system. There is an implied consent then, to innovate, at those organizations. There are people, budgets, expectations. At smaller companies, the Mis-Fortune 5000 as I sometimes jest, there is often not a process in place. In many of these still sizable firms innovation tends to be a reaction to an emergency, or a sporadic effort that takes a back seat to operations. They often default to incremental improvement of the product or service based on customer demands. A newly appointed Innovation VP or Director at a




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Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit

I am sometimes asked what a Facilitator should have in their kit bag. Here’s my answer — the Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit list. The items are below in bold. Many have links to where you can source the materials. I’m assuming the facilitator is a hands-on project leader who facilitates meetings, such as idea generation or strategy sessions. I did not take into consideration travel via plane or car. Obviously, some things are more portable than others. Consider this a master list which you can subset for your needs. Some of these items are not available off the shelf retail, so, put this kit together ahead of time so you can focus on design and executing your session plan as




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Five Magic Imagination Guidelines

Five Magic Imagination Guidelines You hear it so often that it becomes one of those things that you really don’t think about it. “Use your imagination” is the phrase or thought that I’m talking about. I believe that many of us actually fear our own imagination. That’s tragic, don’t be afraid. It occurs to me that most people have the desire, deep down, to use their imagination more — but have no idea how. Here’s how. First of all Access your imagination more often. Do it deliberately. If you ask your imagination for ideas or visions once a year it’s a bit like that faucet in the back of the house you never use. When you turn it on, it’s




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Temporary Innovation Veep

The case for bringing in a temporary Innovation Veep.* “On Call Innovation Director/Mentor/Trainer”? What really changes innovation culture? Are you seeking a change in your innovation approach? Is your organization mired in a non-innovative swamp? First let me say what does NOT change innovation culture. It’s not that these services that I’ll mention below can’t be helpful, they can. But on there own, they will not change innovation at your organization. There’s one thing that will change culture and I talk about that at the bottom of this post. Don’t skip ahead. * Let me acknowledge the ideas of author Michael Foster — we discussed these concepts about a Temp Veep over coffee in San Jose a few weeks ago




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21 Rules for Innovation Team Building

I revised this “rule of thumb” list for a client and she suggested I re-share it in a blog post. This list is the accumulated wisdom of many years and it includes thinking from colleagues in the innovation space. Its target is the innovation team leader, but there are lessons for all types of team members here. The big change from the previous version is the emphasis on projects. It’s the key to Innovation in my view, from culture change to positive team dynamics to effectiveness of an overall innovation program. It’s the one thing of innovation — doing Projects. So here goes: 21 Rules for Innovation Team Building 1. A strong bold project initiative, with a clear vision for




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