Now that 2012 has kicked into gear, it is time to get your innovation efforts right before the recovery. To that end, every organization should be looking to find and aim their innovation catapult.
What does this mean, exactly? Well, we all know that innovation is about challenging the status quo. Because of this, there are many barriers to innovation that exist within organizations that try to prevent innovators from storming the castle gates and disrupting what is safe, comfortable, and successful. So what is an innovator to do?
To successfully catapult your innovation efforts over your organization’s defenses, you must first develop flexibility, focus, and passion in your approach to innovation. You must fight to balance several tensions within your organization including: exploitation versus exploration, and the entrepreneurial mindset versus the executive mindset. To help with these efforts, you must also consciously establish a focus on creating innovation excellence much in the same way that you pursue operational excellence.
To effectively find and aim your innovation catapult, you must first remember six key things about catapults themselves:
1. They Accelerate Things
Innovation acceleration is achieved by accumulating the partial ideas and the energy and passion behind them to create broader support, tackle their obvious weaknesses, and to build a more complete solution to take to the marketplace.
2. Risk is Involved
We must be aware and manage the risks to innovation that come from choosing the wrong insight to drive ideation, from overestimating the new value, from underestimating the development costs, from being too early, or from being overconfident.
3. You Need a System
To create innovation excellence we must first understand what our current level of innovation maturity is, and then we must either build or improve our system for generating insights, and have a system for managing the overall innovation process.
4. It’s About the People
People of course are central to innovation, and this means we need to have people that seek insights, are great at collaboration, that are willing to fight to overcome obstacles, and that understand that they have a role to play in the innovation process.
5. You Can’t Do It All Yourself
But as an organization, you can’t do it yourself. There are many different groups surrounding your organization that can serve not only as great sources of insights and inputs to power innovation, but also groups that you need to work with to manage the complexity of change that your innovations will unleash. At the same time, you must work hard to achieve a level of balance in these partnerships in the same way that successful personal relationships require a certain balance of give and take.
6. Barriers Can Be Overcome
Finally, barriers to innovation can be overcome if you know where to look. By knowing what the unique barriers to innovation that your organization faces are, you can begin to address them, whether they lie in the organizational psychology or somewhere else.
Braden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, embeds innovation across the organization with innovation training, and builds B2B pull marketing strategies that drive increased revenue, visibility and inbound sales leads. He is currently advising an early-stage fashion startup making jewelry for your hair and is the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. He tweets from @innovate.