How permission to innovate leads to accidental innovation

Two weeks ago I wrote about the four signs that show that you have a culture of innovation. Well here’s another one:

A good sign that you’re innovating is when employees don’t ask for permission to do so. They just do it. 

An article on MIT Technology Review shows how AutoDesk Disrupted Itself with a $2.99 app when two middle managers created an iPhone and iPad application without asking for permission:

The apps’ origins are a reminder that big companies can innovate too, although not necessarily in predictable ways. “You can’t institutionalize innovation. If you could, everyone would do it,” says Bass. He acknowledges he probably wouldn’t have put resources toward the app project—”But guess what? Two guys did it and didn’t ask anyone’s permission.”

As this example shows, not asking for permission and just following your nose may result in accidental innovation. And boy was it accidental! AutoDesk immediately reached a new audience, a bigger one than it ever had. And now AutoDesk is now in the consumer products business with a very popular consumer app. Who would’ve thought?

The above quote also brings up an important point: You can institutionalize innovation, you just have to make it part of business-as-usual by letting people follow their nose every once in awhile. Make it part of their job description.

Enhanced by Zemanta