I often get asked how to bring about an innovation revolution.
There is no right or wrong way to go about this but I have seen a number of innovation initiatives that absolutely don’t work.
Here’s what not to do.
1. Ask managers to take on an innovation project on top of their existing work-load.
This never works. People are already over-loaded so the idea of giving exhausted managers more work and little credit is doomed to fail. It also positions innovation as something extra to do rather than at the centre of everything a person does.
2. Ask individuals, teams or groups to go and be creative.
This sounds good but most people do not know how to think creatively.
I have found that the best way is to give people some new tools.
For example, Our new Blitz process (http://www.ideasblitz.com) is one such tool.
3. Ask everyone for a Big Idea
This point is related to the previous one.
It sounds helpful and visionary.
But it assumes that people can create a big idea and/or they will be able to recognise one when it magically appears.
There is also no focus.
Just asking for a big idea is not helpful if it is not aligned with a business priority.
Much better to say (as a leader) ‘we are trying to solve this customer problem who has some ideas?’
4. Form an innovation team but don’t give them a budget or any decision-making authority.
Self-explanatory. An innovation team is not a show-piece, a chair that no-one sits in.
It is a key practical and symbolic action to push a project along.
They need resources however otherwise it will end in frustration.
5. Introduce an innovation strategy without a goal and key metrics in place.
What gets measured gets done is an ‘oldie but a goodie.’ innovation is know different, if you don’t have a goal and a way of measuring progress how will you know if you are winning?
How will you measure success?
6. Ask employees for ideas and have no way of evaluating them.
I recently travelled to China and an executive asked his R&D team for some future food ideas.
Some 200 ideas later he realised that he had no way of evaluating them. Much better to work that out in advance before issuing the idea challenge.
7. Never talk about innovation.
Tom Peters once said, ‘if you want innovation — just ask for it’.
I like this.
What gets our attention and energy is what we talk about.
If innovation is important then start talking about it at every meeting.
Start recognising and rewarding innovative behaviour.
8. Spend all your time planning innovation.
Another sure killer.
Innovation is about creating and testing new ideas or solutions.
If you want to lose weight you have to start going for a jog not spending all your time planning to exercise.
The innovation cycle is creating, testing, measuring, learning and sharing new approaches @speed.
As the Nike ad says, Just Do It not Just Plan to Do It!