I recently spoke at innov8, a conference on corporate innovation in Tel-Aviv. Here’s the first key (out of three) that I shared for the successful launch of an innovation program within any organization.
Check out my book “The PEAK innovation principles” on Amazon.
Here’s a session I gave recently at our annual UX event where I talk about systematic innovation and the pitfalls you must avoid. Would love to get your feedback!
As some of you know I’m working on a book about how to turn any organization into a highly innovative one. Being one who likes to walk his talk, I have released a sort of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) version of it in the form of a Slideshare deck that contains the book’s outline. Would love to get your feedback. In particular:
- Did you understand the 9 principles and the three groups they were divided into?
- Is the definition of an innovation system clear and concise?
- Anything major you’d add? Eliminate?
Brené Brown is a brilliant researcher and teacher who focuses on the topics of shame and vulnerability. Her TED talk below had a profound effect on how I perceive my role as head of innovation at HPE Software.
How do these topics relate to innovation?
Simply put, whenever an employee has the courage to pitch an innovation idea she places herself in a very vulnerable position. Innovation ideas tend to be very raw and have high levels of uncertainty associated with them. From experience I can tell you that when presented with an innovative idea for the first time you will probably experience a feeling of unease at a physical level.
It will literally make you feel uncomfortable.
You will do whatever is possible at that moment to compartmentalize the idea as something familiar. It is your tendency based on millions of years of evolution. Something uncertain is literally perceived as danger to our reptilian brain. You will start telling this person all of the reasons why the idea won’t work.
It won’t generate revenues.
It has been tried before and failed.
It requires cooperation with another business unit that will never happen.
In this attempt to bring the idea back to a digestible form that is safe we kill great ideas and we silence the brave souls who present them. This is detrimental to innovation over the long run.
How do we as leaders create an environment and culture that will nurture such ideas and not destroy them with the best of intentions?
It is essential to have a culture and processes that create a “safe” environment for employees to present their ideas at very early stages and spawn constructive conversations about those ideas.
I’d love to hear your stories about how shame and vulnerability affected innovation in your work environment. Please comment.
I know I haven’t posted in a while. The good news are that I have been focusing on new areas of innovation management and I have lots of new insights to share. In the meantime, I’d like to offer you my loyal followers a sneak peek at he next version of my book. If you’re interested just shoot me an email to email@example.com and I will send you an early copy.
Ran Bar-Zik just posted a review of my book. Check it out.
Usually I share insights about what it takes to run innovation systematically. Recently I have been overwhelmed by emotional moments that I experienced running an innovation system for a Fortune 50 company. They involved the wonderful individuals who act as intrapreneurs and contributors to the program.
I strongly believe that in this day and age you owe it to yourself, to your loved ones and to your company to innovate. It will be good for your company but more importantly it will do great things for you. I have watched hundreds of employees get involved in innovation projects over the years and I can tell you that they all benefited in one way or another from the experience. As I run this global innovation program I often get heartwarming emails and testimonials from colleagues who tell me how going through the experience of corporate intrapreneurship changed their lives. Always for the better. So in this post I will share the 5 reasons why innovation is critical to the career of corporate citizens.
- Personal growth – Working on innovation projects is an opportunity to try, fail and improve. It fosters curiosity since you are exploring what is possible in order to achieve the incredible. It fosters grit because only the ones who persist despite the rejection and the challenges will make progress. It takes people squarely out of their comfort zone because it forces you to get out of the office and perform activities like customer interviews and business development that you wouldn’t be doing under any other circumstances. Regardless of the project’s outcome you come out on the other side a stronger, better version of yourself.
- Personal differentiation – Corporations are composed from thousands of employees. As you look for potential career paths and promotions one of the most important things you can do as described in Patty Azarello’s fantastic work “Rise!” is to be seen by senior managers. When you are pushing innovation projects forward inside a corporation you will be noticed. You will have opportunities to present to leaders. When you do, remember that as passionately as you might feel about your project and regardless of its actual outcome you are investing in your personal brand so make sure you nail it. In the program I run we had cases where even when a project was shut down, the person who was leading it got promoted because his work on the project showcased his intelligence, drive and talent to his managers.
- Connection to talented people – When you start working on something exciting and share it with others enthusiastically, you will draw talented and passionate people to work with you. The relationships that you will form with these people will become part of your internal professional network. That network can be leveraged to perform better at your day job and become very valuable to your manager. Your connections are a power multiplier to your perceived value and your effectiveness. Innovation projects are a great opportunity to form these connections with people of the highest quality.
- Variety – Variety is the spice of life. What a delight it can be to introduce variety to your work day that is good for you and great for the business. When you work on innovation projects and push them forward (usually in parallel to your day work – hopefully on company time) you add variety to your day. That fills you up with energy that dissipates into your day job at a great benefit to all parties concerned.
- Contribution to others – Innovation isn’t always about you. It can be about a colleague whom you can help with a piece of information, a contact or an observation that wouldn’t be available otherwise. Look around you. Are there colleagues of yours trying to innovate? Even if this isn’t the right time for you to lead – it is always a good time to assist others!
Happy new year!