Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Innovation Short Cuts

While I rarely advocate for short cuts, I think there are five or six attributes of a business that can propel it toward becoming a truly innovative firm. If you are in a rush to become more innovative in your business, adopt these concepts:

- Get top management on board and have them advocate regularly the importance of innovation,
even at the expense of short term results

- Welcome ideas from any part of the organization and demonstrate the ability to frame
problems and indicate which ideas are useful. Provide feedback to submitters

- Define a process for capturing, managing and evaluating ideas that is well-understood and
repeatable

- Encourage as much interaction and feedback on an idea as possible. Experiment and
question an idea thoroughly prior to launch

- Prototype early and often

- Seek as much information about the market as possible. Learn to be able to accept qualitative
inputs as well as you accept quantitative. The future can't be measured yet.

- Have your best people work on innovation. Raise the compensation and motivation on
innovation and eliminate the fear of failure

- Treat innovation like an investment portfolio. Nurture some incremental innovations that
pay off in the short run and some risky innovations with a big potential long term payoff.

OK - so in hindsight there really aren't any shortcuts. Doing any one of these things is a good first step, but to quote James Baker, this isn't a fruit salad. You can't say I'd like a little more prototyping but I don't want to impact compensation. To be effective at innovation in the long run, you need to implement all of these suggestions. Fortunately you don't have to do them all at once.
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posted by Jeffrey Phillips at 5:40 AM

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