Insights and steps for making innovation a larger part of your culture

Innovation can be taught. That is a given. But, just like everything else that matters, it takes work.

To give you an idea of hard it is, last night I had a few drinks with a couple of “politic helpers”, and they fully believed that innovation was advertising. How did they come to this conclusion? Because advertising to people gets you to buy.

No surprised.

That is a major obstacle one has to overcome in order to drive innovation: the mindset.

But, how about you? What do people in your organization believe innovation is? It is a very important question, and one that drives the potential narrative of your future efforts.

in the webinar below, three people from different industries, including non-profits, talk about how they drive innovation in their respective organization.

Adding Innovation to Your Organizational DNA from Spigit, Inc. on Vimeo.

  • Pavel Bogdashov

    Jorge, we have seen the light. For a long-long time we thought innovation is just about bringing new products to the market. But now we realize it is so much more… and yes “innovation” is a very overused term, but what it means to us is “finding new ways to improve things”.

    Granted not everyone in the organization gets it yet, so getting that mindset to spread is still a challenge, but there is real momentum to take a step back from the daily routine – look at the bigger picture and question how our organization could improve on the status quo across a whole set of issues!

    Boom!

    Pav

    • Hi Pavel @PavelBogdashov,

      That is good to hear. How did your organization “see the light”? Was it a situation that provoked it? Your own curiosity? What was it?

      Also, how did you come about defining “what innovation means to us”?

      Thanks for commenting,

      Jorge

      • Pavel Bogdashov

        Good questions, “seeing the light” for us was a spreading realisations that our environment is changing and that feeling that we needed to move on, that we were getting nowhere by doing the same things we had done before…

        But this wouldn’t turn into a company-wide wave if the leadership hadn’t come up with a great top-down initiative – they gave us permission to experiment, try new things, fail, learn until we get to improve whatever we feel needs improving.

        A great deal about the definition comes from “Lean Startup” by Eric Reis, but no one puts it better than Carl Bass: “Innovation is making things better” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKV3rhzvaC8).

        That definition is simple enough and powerful enough to unite and motivate people – because we all want to make things better! The only question left is how?

        What do you think?

        Pav

        • Hi Pavel @PavelBogdashov,

          That’s great!

          Well, the “how” question is the one that takes more work, that’s the puzzle building part.

          Now that you have a definition of innovation to direct your attention, how has your organization approached the “how”?

          Thanks,

          Jorge

          • Pavel Bogdashov

            That depends on the issue we are trying to address. Here’s a few examples of how we scale this up:

            1. If it is a personal (but still work-related issue) – we use visual thinking techniques to understand what it is that is getting in the way; then think about how we gain control – what are we trying to achieve? – who’s help do we need? – what resources? – how much time? (see Dan Roam’s “The Back of the Napkin” for inspiration)

            2. If it is a team issue – we use work streams with regular meetings. The important part is to keep these focused on the issue we are trying to address. What is it that is getting in the way? What do we need to do to understand the issue better? What are we going to try to solve? How will we measure success / failure?

            3. if the issue is complex and important (and this is often the case) and we need an unusual, creative solution – we use Fusion Thinking… the ultimate tool in our problem-solving toolkit.

          • @PavelBogdashov,

            Thanks for the response.

            Great questions. I rarely encountered this type of honesty within the organizations that I’ve worked with. So, congrats 🙂

            What is “Fusion Thinking”, and how did you arrive at this tool?

            Thanks again and Happy New Year,

            Jorge

          • Pavel Bogdashov

            Fusion Thinking was introduced to us by DPA – a consulting firm based in the UK. I believe it has great potential to solve almost any problem out there. Here is how it works:

            1. Define the problem you are trying to solve as a question. To me this is inspired by Einstein: “If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I’d spend 55 minutes determining the right question to ask. Once I got the right question, I could easily answer it in 5 minutes.”

            2. Use Breakthrough Thinking to generate creative solutions. Here the technique is loosely based on the work of Gerald Nadler and Shozo Hibino.

            3. Use Lean Startup to test the creative solutions in real life with real customers. Based almost exclusively on the Lean Start-up Movement led by Eric Reis et al.

            I have to be honest – I am usually very sceptical about techniques that consultants sell into companies, because many fail the test of reality, but Fusion Thinking is different. Because it works. Because it works for us – for real.

          • @PavelBogdashov,

            Great!

            There are a ton of techniques out there. HBR recently published a handful of them: http://t.co/5nEYY0tXAV

            Like you, I’m not a fan of “template thinking”. What is more interesting to me is to create ones own template that only works for you. I always tell people that a framework is not going to fill you with courage!

            Ultimately a lot of these tools are context-specific, and their value lies in getting people to work together.

            How did the tool work for you guys? What type of challenge was it?

            Thanks,

            Jorge

          • Pavel Bogdashov

            Nice HBR article – Thank you for sharing!

            I like what you said “a framework is not going to fill you with courage”, and I think when you find the courage a framework can become your ladder for execution. But as you said – it should work of you, be context-specific, be engaging, encourage shared ownership of the problem and the potential solutions.

            Fusion Thinking as taught to us (with a few practical tweaks) has become that framework for us. It works well for high complexity, high importance problems.

            For example, we really wanted to find creative ways of improving our customer experience and captured the issue in a question: “How can we delight our customers with info regarding their order?”. This question is open, specific, focused on positive outcome. The ideas we came out with ranged from quirky to grotesque, and after we combined ideas we got to a solution we wanted to experiment with and it is going live this month.

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