Four Laws of Enduring Innovation Success

by Boris Pluskowski

Four Laws of Enduring Innovation SuccessAlways an avid reader of the Financial Times, (one of the few decent news sources in an otherwise barren information landscape here in the US) I came across a great commentary/review by the FT’s always fabulous Lucy Kellaway on the “Money-Honey’s” (CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo) recent book “The Ten Laws of Enduring Success”.

Lucy does amusingly short work of debunking the 10 laws that Maria came up with, and proposes a few laws of her own instead.

Lucy’s Laws were so much better formulated (in my opinion) that it got me thinking about the “Laws” of successful Innovation programs – not least of which because I think the first couple would be the same as the ones Lucy came up with.

So, here are my Four Laws of Enduring Innovation Success:

  1. Be Lucky – no matter how many different ways you squeeze it, Innovation is about luck.With your typical long term program “failing” 75% of the time, there can be no doubt that it takes a certain amount of luck to be successful – especially over the longer term.

    You are in essence, shooting into the dark with most innovation programs – trying products and processes that haven’t been tried before in your company, your industry, or sometimes even the world.

    That’s not to say you can’t improve your chances of getting lucky though. Unlike with the Las Vegas casinos, no one will kick you out of the game for learning the innovation equivalent of card counting techniques. Indeed, in this game, cheating of any form is encouraged; and banding together in casino-busting style innovation teams with other individuals and companies is heavily rewarded.

    By setting up and executing robust innovation strategies and processes you are in essence increasing the predictability of the Lucky Breaks you get – And in Innovation, Luckier is most definitely Better.
  2. Be Ambitious – There’s an old saying: “Fortune Favors the Brave” – and nowhere else is that truer than in the Innovation game. To score big, you have to aim big. If you only look for incremental ideas, then that’s all you’ll get.

    During my time at Imaginatik, we used to make the bold claim of being able to consistently achieve “a 10x ROI on your investment”. How did we make sure that happened? By making sure that the problems being targeted by the client’s innovation strategy were big enough to achieve at least that. And you know what? It worked.
  3. Stay Focused – Running an Innovation program at a big company is kind of like a subscription to a “Shiny-New-Toy-Of-The-Month” Club. It’s easy to get distracted by the current toy sent to you. It’s easy to forget to go to the mailbox for the following month’s toy because you’re having too much fun with this month’s toy still. And after a while, it’s easy to forget the reason you shelled out so much money to get the subscription in the first place.

    To that end, maintaining a laser-like focus on what you’re trying to achieve is imperative for an innovation program. Your Innovation strategy needs to be revisited constantly and attacked with the same brutality for embracing change as you’re demanding from the organization with the innovations that you are introducing. Your strategy needs to be a fluid structure with one constant– “How can I best drive significant business results and organic growth for my organization?” – and you should make sure that your processes and actions are targeted at achieving that goal.
  4. Embrace Everyone – not in a “creepy guy who keeps looking at me funny” way – but rather in a “let’s talk to, and get input from, as many different people as possible” in your quest to solve your corporations problems.

    Innovation, more so than any other business discipline is leading the way in the upcoming socialized business revolution. That revolution will herald a new era where a company’s potential knowledge-base of solutions is no longer limited to the company walls, nor even close collaborators, but will instead embrace a global audience of potential participants.

    To do this, you’ll need to begin to develop new skill sets that will involve learning how to identify which communities of people provide you with specific types of input; learning to set up and drive Social Teams to turn subsets of those communities into useable and active groups that will help you achieve your goals; and learning how to make those groups self sustainable so as to make sure they’re constantly available to you as a resource.

That’s it – four simple laws for ensuring that you not only become successful, but also stay successful. Keep these four on a post-it on your desk, on a poster on your wall, or as the screensaver on your laptop – whatever works for you – just do them!

Do you have any other Laws to Enduring Innovation Success?


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Boris PluskowskiBoris Pluskowski is the Founder of The Complete Innovator where he regularly shares new ideas and best practices on how big companies can harness Innovation, Collaboration and Social Media to drive new sources of value throughout the enterprise.

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  1. I would also add simplicity. The most successful innovations are brilliantly simple, they don’t take a whole side of paper to explain, you see or hear about them and immediately go ‘of course, it’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of that?’ take Virgin Airlines for example -making air travel more entertaining, Wii-make gaming more sociable, Pepsi Max-low cal soda for guys. In fact if you can’t sum it up in a one liner or a post-it, it’s probably not a very good idea.

  2. I like that Anna! Thanks for adding that!

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