40 Innovation Principlesposted by Anna Mar, February 27, 2013
Innovation springs from culture.
(The Invention of the Art of Drawing, Joseph Suvée)
Innovation tends to break out in clusters. A creative community feed off each other, share and build on each other's ideas — bang you've got innovation.
As much as we know about the conditions that produce innovation, it's notoriously difficult to achieve.
Most firms struggle with innovation. Stellar examples of innovative companies are few and far between.
Firms talk the talk but they don't walk the walk. As much as executives are willing to discuss innovation, few make the cultural changes required to produce it.
The first step to making innovation a priority is to establish a set of innovation principles.
Your innovation principles will be unique to your firm. They're a fundamental part of your culture. The following examples will get you started.
1. Innovation is Our Top PriorityExplicitly make innovation a priority.
2. Change is Critical To Our SuccessResistance to change may be your biggest roadblock to innovation.
3. We Take Risks To InnovateComplacency will damage your chances to do anything remotely creative.
4. Innovation Applies To Every Aspect of Our BusinessInnovation doesn't stop at the boardroom or with your marketing department. Anyone involved in your core business should be part of it.
5. Innovation Is Long TermHave the foresight to sponsor long term projects with large potential as long as they show sufficient progress.
6. Innovation Is UrgentYour goal is to get innovation to market.
7. Innovation Is a Daily HabitGive your people time every week or each day to innovate. For example, allow employees to devote one day a week to a research project of their choosing (20 percent time). Provide avenues and incentives to commercialize these projects.
8. Innovation Is UnpredictableInnovation requires a new management approach.
9. Innovation Starts SmallInnovation is risky, don't make large investments too quickly. The biggest innovation starts with a single step.
10. Innovation Is LeanInnovation is on a tight budget. No five course lunches on the company dime until your innovation is a commercial success.
11. Innovation Is FastInnovation may be long term but it's always fast.
12. Innovation FailsIf you want to innovate you can't punish a diligent attempt that fails.
13. Innovation Learns From Each FailureFailure is a an opportunity to improve. This isn't just a cliché designed to make you feel better. Your biggest breakthroughs may emerge from failures.
14. Innovation Is IterativeInnovation is difficult to plan upfront. Deliver a working prototype on a regular basis for validation.
15. Innovation Is Sudden and BigIt's a well known aspect of creativity and innovation. Breakthroughs often come as giant leaps forward.
16. Innovation Is SubtlePromote a culture in which both big breakthroughs and subtle (but commercially successful) innovation get recognition.
17. Innovation Invents New ProductsDon't be afraid to use the word invention.
18. Innovation Improves Existing ProductsPromote a culture that values innovative improvements.
19. Innovation Improves MethodsAvoid a product focus. Innovate your methods (e.g. customer service) too.
20. Innovation Re-inventsStop focusing on standards and best practices. Lead the best practice.
21. Innovation Says YesMany organizations are focused on finding reasons not to do things. Optimism and aggressiveness are the friends of innovation.
22. Innovation LeadsPromote people who innovate.
23. Innovation Isn't a CopyAvoid focusing on the competition, you'll only end up copying them. Focus on your customers.
24. Innovation Is Trend AwareInnovation never happens in a vacuum. It always builds on existing knowledge.
25. Innovation Is IndividualInnovation isn't necessarily a social process. Historically, many great innovations were the product of a single mind. It's important to support individual projects.
26. Innovation Is SocialInnovation is often the result of individuals feeding off each other's ideas. Encourage meetings and events that generate new ideas.
27. Innovation Is PublishedInnovation needs plenty of validation. The faster it's peer reviewed the better.
28. Innovation Is OpenConsider opening your innovation for others to build upon.
29. Innovation Is TestedValidate your innovations with data. Get a prototype in front of customers as fast as you can.
30. Innovation Is Re-interpretedAllow everyone in your organization the opportunity to build upon your innovations.
31. Innovation Begins in IntuitionThis addresses the creative process itself. Intuition is underrated in many organizations. Allow your people to follow an idea without a business case.
32. Innovation Begins in Free ThoughtDo your people feel that they can express their creative thoughts in a meeting? Or do they play it safe? Are politics and oneupmanship disrupting your chances at innovation?
33. Innovation PlaysPlay is widely considered essential to creative thought and innovation.
34. Innovation RestsOver-focus can be blinding and counterproductive. Innovation often comes after taking a walk or having a nap. This phenomena is known as incubation. Establish a culture that respects rest.
35. Innovation FocusesInnovation needs a quiet place to focus on ideas for long periods of time. There's no need to make your office an entertainment complex.
36. Innovation Is SupportedInnovation requires support from leadership who can clear barriers.
37. Innovation Is RewardedDevelop a clear reward program for innovation and communication it.
38. Innovation Complies With The LawInnovation requires trust. If you allow your employees to run their own research projects, it's important that they understand legal compliance issues.
39. Innovation Is EthicalIf you provide your people with more freedom to invent it's a good idea to provide an ethical framework.
40. Innovation Is Guided by Your MissionInnovation aligns with your business model. If you're a grocery store chain, you don't need your people designing aircraft.
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