10 Practical Tips on Making Innovation Happen

by Stefan Lindegaard

10 Practical Tips on Making Innovation HappenWhat can executives do to lead their business units and the company as a whole to become more innovative? How can they innovate how the company innovates?

A key thing is that many executives might understand the issues related to these questions, but they lack simple, practical advice to make things happen.

I am working on a list of such advice. Here are my starting points. It is work in progress and your input is highly appreciated.

  1. Meet the corporate innovators. Corporate innovators not only have external issues to deal with. Internal bureaucracy and power-struggles can be just as difficult. Executives can really make a difference on the latter if they have a better understanding on what is going on. They need to talk more with corporate innovators in order to understand their issues. They also need to talk with the middle-managers as they are often the key to solving these issues.
  2. Get personally committed. Find a group of people and get personally involved in what they are doing. Help them remove their barriers for making innovation happen. This is a natural next step after meeting the corporate innovators.
  3. Expand the horizon. Have the innovation unit develop a learning curriculum (collection of articles and blog posts) that is relevant for the innovation issues in the company. Spend at least one hour a week reading and working with this material.
  4. Maintain the overview. Once executives have gotten a better understanding of the innovation efforts, capabilities and issues in the company, they should organize – or at least attend – frequent meetings aimed at helping them maintain this overview.
  5. Create a learning culture. Launch and/or support initiatives that lead to more experimentation and appreciate failure as a part of learning. Executives need to accept that they sometimes need to let go of things in order to create the right conditions for innovation to flourish.
  6. Become a better networker. You cannot have a strong innovation culture without a strong networking culture. Executives can lead the way and show that they are good networkers. This can be defined as having a strategy/purpose (explain to others why you network), an understanding of the right tools (network physically as well as virtually) and a willingness to invest in this (networking takes time).
  7. Go beyond the usual suspects. Executives have a tendency to select the usual suspects when they need to get important things done. They are most often people with a strong track record of creating results within the company. However, innovation is more unpredictable and not business as usual. Different perspectives are needed to succeed. Look beyond the usual suspects and be willing to take some risks.
  8. Break down corporate rules and procedures. Any company of a certain size needs rules and procedures to make the big machine function well. However, these rules and procedures often hinder innovation. Occasionally, executives need to take a look at them with the purpose of understanding their impact on innovation and change them if needed.
  9. Ask more questions. Be more curious. Executives can develop a set of questions that can help them develop a better understanding of innovation. Ask them frequently at different meetings.
  10. Check if you are on track. Define a simple set of metrics that can help executives know whether they are moving in the right direction.

A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing

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Stefan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation

No comments

  1. I’d suggest that your point 1 and 2 are not very practical if the right people cannot easily be found and we all know how difficult that is in large organisations. One way of overcoming this would be to have a very visible and transparent social business platform in operation that makes the “corporate innovators” more visible based on their contributions and participation and/or makes them easier to find. This is even more the case with formal social idea management systems where the point is innovation and in ideal systems, where contribution is actively measured and can be rewarded.

  2. You mentioned removing the barriers to innovation and I think that is key.Innovation isn’t a perfect science so you need confidence to put forward half baked ideas and that can be difficult infront of your peers and superiors (at least superior by title!.)

    There’s a great video about where ideas come from by Steven Johnson (if you haven’t seen it you can find it on our blog at https://wikisolutionsblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/where-good-ideas-come-from/) He talks about the need for half finished ideas to collide with other half finished ideas.

    So I think you need to create an environment within which innovation can happen and ideas can collide. With all the time pressures on management today its hard to get people physically together in the same space at the same time. Web 2.0 technologies allow you to create on-line spaces like our Wiki-Labs where people come together to capture and share insights, generate ideas and develop action plans.

  3. Sadly, most of the writings of the so called experts is bull****. ‘Making innovation happen!’ Open Innovation- what’s that all about? You people are so wrapped up in hype that you don’t know fact from fiction. Remember you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool us all. There are so many Stefan Lindegaard’s around with their opinions on how to make things happen. Instead of telling us how to make things happen maybe he should show us all the inventions and developments that he has produced. He has started four companies. What do they produce??
    He has an organisation called http://www.intrap.com which is not contactable on the web. He has produced great results for Danfoss. I have a family member who works for Danfoss in a management capacity. He has never heard of Stefan Lindegaard. My apologies if I am wrong.

  4. Hi Richard,

    I kind of feel sorry for you since you can write comments like you did. Especially since you added the last remark: “My apologies if I am wrong”.

    I stopped working with the Intrap name 2-3 years ago which is why it is no longer online. You can follow my work on http://www.15inno.com.

    I helped Danfoss pioneer the first corporate business plan competition called “Man on the Moon”. Ask your family member if this rings a bell to him. It certainly will to many people who know this competition and how it got started. I have never claimed credit on other things related to Danfoss so I do not fully understand what you mean by this statement “he has produced great results for Danfoss.”

    I have started four companies; a media company, an internet agency, a networking company and now 15inno. The first three companies grew to 7-9 employees before they imploded. I am not fully sure whether 15inno will become a real company or if I should just keep it as a “lifestyle entrepreneur” business. You could have checked my LinkedIn profile to get a better idea of my previous work. As mentioned, my companies failed to make it big, but the lessons I have learned as an entrepreneur have often been valuable when I work with corporate innovation units. I still hope to build a good growth business one day. Who knows what will happen?

    It is only fair that you raise your voice if you disagree on my views. However, I just don’t see the need to get personal.

    I don’t know you. You don’t know me. I am not sure what prompted you to write what you did, but please do some more research next time you pull of a stunt like this.

    That would suit you well…

    Stefan

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