What is an Innovation Culture?

Much has been written about what constitutes an innovation culture. Defining what that means may seem relatively simple, but is much more difficult to both define and achieve than one might think. To begin the definition for an individual organization, start by understanding how the senior management team deals with ambiguity and risk. If an organization is extremely risk averse, it is unlikely to be very innovative. All companies deal with risk, there is risk in doing something, and there is risk in doing nothing. Risk is a part of being in business, and how the organization is prepared to manage risk is a leading factor in its ability to move into new competitive arenas. The need to be innovative is derived from market pressures. The leadership team must feel a degree of angst about the future, or some paranoia about outside forces that makes …

Posted in Headlines, Innovation, culture | 3 Comments
The Value of Nothing

When children are born prematurely, they are placed in incubators until ready for the world. When fields stop producing, farmers let them lay fallow — until the soil’s nutrients are restored. When a baseball player is in a slump, he’s given a day off to get his game together. It’s the same with innovators — or should be. They, too, need to incubate. They, too, need to lay fallow. They, too, need an occasional day off — especially if the results they’re looking for aren’t showing up. You already know this. That’s why sometimes you choose to “sleep on it” before making a decision. Pausing isn’t necessarily procrastinating. Done well, it’s an act of renewal — a chance for you to relax and let your subconscious shine — a natural phenomenon that’s all-too-rare these days — especially in organizations where everyone is being driven to produce, produce, produce. Face it. … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Psychology | 4 Comments
Prospective Innovation

People can improve the quality, originality, and elegance of ideas by extensively forecasting the implication of those ideas during the generation phase. Researchers from The University of Oklahoma studied the effect of forecasting on idea evaluation and implementation planning. In the experiment, 141 undergraduate students were asked to formulate advertising campaigns for a new product. These campaigns were evaluated by a panel of judges. Prior to formulating the campaigns, participants were asked to forecast the implication of their ideas and the forecast the effects of a plan for implementing their best idea. As part of the experiment, students received a hypothetical email from the Vice President of Sales for this new product. They received this during the idea generation phase of the project. In the email, he directed the students as follows: “I hope all is going well on the IMPACT project. The deadline is …

Posted in Innovation, Psychology, marketing | 1 Comment
Leveraging Fear and Failure

“Fear” and “Failure” are NOT dirty words, but you’ll find most leaders treat them as such. They go out of their way to hide their fears and explain away their failures rather than confront them and learn from them. One of my pet peeves is the current trend of labeling fear as a weakness and failure as unacceptable. In fact, things have gone so far that the word failure is quickly being removed from our business vocabulary altogether. Failure has been hi-jacked by the politically correct and re-branded as challenge, obstacle, barrier, set-back, a miss, development opportunity, and any number of other watered-down substitutes. In today’s post I’ll examine the necessary and acceptable relationships between fear, risk, failure and success. Fear in and of itself is not a bad thing, rather it is how a person chooses to cope with fear that will determine its effect on their life. Ask … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Leadership & Infrastructure, Management | 1 Comment
Innovation and Porter's Value Chain

I’m reviewing the relationship between a number of tried and true strategic management models and innovation, to see if those models and concepts hold up under the increasing importance of innovation. A few days ago I reviewed Porter’s Five Forces model and concluded that while Porter didn’t explicitly call out innovation, it was clear that the Five Forces model embraced innovation. Today, we’ll look quickly at another Porter model – the Value Chain Analysis – and investigate how it holds up innovation. In the 1980s, Michael Porter wrote a number of books about corporate strategy that became the basis for much of the education of MBAs, at least where strategy was concerned. Few MBAs in the 80s and 90s failed to study Porter’s Five Forces or Value Chain Analysis. Since many of those MBAs minted in that period are now in leadership positions in their firms, it behooves …

Posted in Build Capability, Headlines, Innovation, Strategy | 5 Comments
Cashing in on IP

Maximizing Innovation by Translating Intellectual Property (IP) into Revenue by Robert F. Brands with Jeff Zbar What’s in your IP cupboard? Progressive companies create innovation teams. They invest countless man-hours, dollars and other resources in investigating and pursuing innovation. Yet they often leave their intellectual property untouched, thereby failing to translate patents and other IP into revenue opportunities. American industry and academia hold some two million current patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Yet, the vast majority remain idle. In a tight economy – and even in the best of times, failure to exploit existing patents for profit means more than money’s being left on the table. New opportunities – and the possibilities they spawn in kind – are lost. At a recent Intellectual Property Owners meeting in Atlanta, the importance of corporate innovation and IP governance were tied directly to the potential for value creation. The … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Strategy | 2 Comments
Healthy Innovation at Work

The Power of the Unconference by Jeff Benabio, M.D. If you want to witness the power of innovation, I recommend you check out a user-generated or Open Space unconference. I recently attended my first – HealthCamp San Diego – and can attest that something magical happens when you get health care giants in the same room as entrepreneurs, innovators, technology experts, doctors, nurses and patients. From the first minute, titles were discarded and we became a room full of bright, energetic people freely collaborating. Our diverse backgrounds enhanced the conversations and were an impetus for innovation. An “unconference” breaks out of the traditional, planned-months-in-advance trade shows and conferences to which many of us, especially in medicine, are accustomed. There is no agenda, no product booths and few PowerPoint presentations. Relying heavily on social media tools, the unconference format is designed to foster true networking, peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity. …

Posted in Headlines, Innovation, Social Innovation, Social Media, collaboration | 1 Comment