Tag Archives: Innovation

To innovate better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission

Cultures of innovation are naturally dynamic. Employees think of new ideas and try them on the fly. Processes and procedures are fluid. There often is no one right answer to a problem, but rather experimentation drives many projects, efforts, assignments, and ultimately opportunities for improvement.

With that said, in my neck of the woods, businesses are the complete inverse.

Take a recent experience I had with the marketing manager of a telecommunications company based in Tijuana. With Startup Weekend Tijuana 4 coming this week, this marketing manager enthusiastically let me know that she signed up to participate. “Great!”, I said. But there was one minor problem: she didn’t want me to tell her boss about it.


According to her, the boss doesn’t want people to have their head occupied in anything other than what they’re supposed to be doing at work.

Sound familiar?

Q&A: Babak Forutanpour on how to start a grass roots innovation program in a big company

How do you start a grassroots innovation program within your company? In the following interview, you’ll learn how simple it really is.

I had the opportunity to interview Babak Forutanpour, the Internal Innovation Lead of Qualcomm’s Flux, an employee run open innovation program. In a wide ranging interview he shared with me his experience in starting an innovation program inside Qualcomm, as well as the fantastic results they’ve achieved. What started as an 8 person experiment, four years later is a global initiative.

Below, I’ve summarized some of the answers.

How can I allocate time for innovation activities?

How can I allocate time for innovation activities?

Before will, skills and tools, what aspiring innovators need is time. It is a delicate topic because within organizations, the preference is for employees to keep the machine’s wheels turning as efficiently as possible. This leaves no time for reflection and play.

So, what to do?

10 thought provoking questions to find hidden pain points

There are pain points you can identify in an initial sales discussion, and then there are the pain points that are hidden in plain sight. I believe these are the ones that matter, precisely because they have gone unquestioned for a long time.

How do you find them? Easy, by questioning the status quo.

Whenever I give one of my innovation workshops, the part about questioning assumptions always draws the most attention. This past Saturday, was such a day. You see, questioning (which is one of the five key innovation skills) is perceived as being irritating. Because when you question common practices and opinions, said one my guests, you get into trouble.

Yes, very true. Nobody likes their beliefs to be questioned. But, this is also a big reason why companies fail: their belief of future success is anchored in their past success.

Case in point, Blackberry. They believed that the pain points they were eliminating when they started, were still relevant. This made them an easy target for irrelevance since they never adapted.