Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Waiting for Innovation

For another blog I write (Thinking Faster), I once wrote a riff on Dr. Seuss's book "Oh, The Places You'll Go". This made perfect sense because the book is meant to charge up a kid (or an adult) to be proactive, to have confidence and to get going. The contrast within the book is the horrible place Dr. Seuss called the "Waiting Place". That's a place where people are constantly waiting for things to happen and not taking action or control.

For a lot of people interested in innovation and idea management, they are stuck in the Waiting Place. They'd like to be more innovative, and they can see that many great ideas and initiatives never get considered or even see the light of day. They are constantly waiting for someone, anyone to put a process or template or framework in place and to receive permission from on high to get started.

Well, get comfortable with the Waiting Place. Find a good bench and read the paper. Innovation is not going to come to you, you'll need to go to it. Even as an individual in a company hostile to innovation (and what firm would admit to that?) you can get started and make a difference every day. How?

There are several things you can do right now to become more innovative individually and more importantly collectively:

1. Write down your ideas and those of others and begin to develop your own frameworks about how to assess or evaluate the ideas.
2. Share your ideas and your framework with others that you interact with. Yes, it will have to be your own personal crusade for a while. Innovators have thick skins.
3. Make a difference right where you are. Make some change to your process, your work habits, how you interact with your office mates. Almost everyone in business is part of a business process at some level. Can you create an idea that improves the process upstream or downstream?
4. Pester your customers and vendors to improve how they work with the firm.
5. Tell your manager that you'd like to work on projects to help innovate a new product or service.
6. Become a Chuck Frey. Chuck has become a virtual clearinghouse of information about innovation. He has well positioned himself as an expert in the field through aggregating information and commenting on innovation.
7. Start your own blog and find people who agree with your viewpoint.
8. Start eating lunch with like minded people from your organization or other business functions and build a virtual innovation team.

I could go on and on (and probably have). Innovation is important to your manager, and to her manager, and right on up the chain to the CEO. Problem is, most of them can't or won't admit that they don't have the magic formula to bring innovation into the business. Rather than wait for the blessings on high to rain down, get started. Otherwise, get comfortable on the bench.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 8:16 AM

35 Comments:

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