Tip 16. Innovation is both formal and informal.
Innovation can be planned through stage gate and new product development processes, and formal brainstorming sessions.
You can set goals, targets and encourage innovation.
All these are important but there is another form of innovation.
Innovation often emerges from spontaneous interactions that emerge from people bumping into one another, or at the cafe or over lunch.
Both of these innovation styles should be respected and nurtured.
Tip 17. Find out who your most creative people are.
I believe that whilst creativity can be learned and improved up there are some people that are better at it (or more confident) than others.
These people can make new connections and often see opportunities where other do not.
Hence it makes sense that a smart innovation manager would try and leverage the strengths of these people.
The first step is to try and identify these creative types. One way to do this is to have them peer nominated e.g. you can ask employees — who in your team or group consistently comes up with left-field ideas?
Peer nominated means that these people feel special, they feel less of an outsider and by putting them together you could give them a special innovation project to work on.
Membership of this group might last for 3-6 months and a new batch of people can be nominated.
Tip 18. How to run a successful Brainstorming session and meeting should be taught as part of any innovation journey.
The most popular and widely used group creativity tool is brainstorming so it makes sense to help people improve the quality and quantity of their ideas.
In addition because most people spend most of their time in meetings any attempt to improve and shorten meetings would be considered a major innovation result.
Tip 19. Just met a senior leader at a financial services company and his title was head of innovation & implementation.
Love this, for too long we have separated the front end from the back end. You can and need to be creative in both areas.
Tip 20. Have an innovation day every quarter.
Place this in the diary and it cannot be moved.
This is a day completely dedicated to innovation.
The aim is to celebrate the past, where we are at the moment and what is to come.
Tip 21. Be more innovative around trying to harness the ideas of all employees.
Ask 1 leader to pose a challenge which anyone or team can attempt to solve.
They can send or present their ideas to the leader.
Then ask another leader for a new challenge for the next month.
In this way employees are encouraged to contribute their ideas but these are aligned to the priorities of the business.
It also broadens younger employees to think more broadly about the business and they might get valuable exposure to a leader when they present their ideas.
Because the program rotates, leaders do not get stale nor do people become bored with the same old challenges.
Tip 22. Just like you should train everyone in brainstorming you should also give them the opportunity to learn how to Blitz.
This is a fast and energising creativity tool for individuals and groups.
Imagine the innovative power you could release if you could enhance the creative thinking skills and confidence of every employee.
Tip 23. Many leaders form innovation teams but do not give them any real responsibility, goals or a budget.
Surely if you have people that want to join such a team they can be stretched and given a real challenge to work on.
They can then be given say 3 – 6 months to deliver on this challenge.
This becomes an exciting opportunity to make a real difference as well as learn new skills and tools.
Tip 24. Some leaders complain that they never have enough money for innovation.
My solution is simple. Take 5-10% off every leaders budget and place it in an innovation fund.
In this way you create a pile of money and then leaders can compete for these funds depending on the strength of their idea rather than their position.
In addition because you have taken funds from then they will be keen to get these back so they will automatically have an interest in innovation.
Tip 25. Some managers say they work in an area where they cannot be innovative due to the nature of their role etc.
This may or may not be the case but i have often found that the biggest barrier is not the role but people’s limited imagination.
Select an area, role, function or process and try to reinvent it.
You will obtain a better outcome and prove to everyone that innovation can apply everywhere.
For example Air New Zealand have made the safety notices fun and engaging.
Who would have thought that was possible to travel-weary business people?