Recently, I participated in an online brainstorm hosted by the Management Innovation eXchange, or "MIX." This group is focused on solving tough management challenges, and leverages its list of online members to generate innovation in an organization. In a summary of this this brainstorm, called the "Quick Mix Brainstorm Summary Part 1," I wrote about how bureaucratic hurdles in a company can limit innovation and frustrate employees. But there were hundreds of great insights, from innovative thinkers with varying backgrounds, which really defined the immense effect that innovation can have on any organization, large or small. Innovation isn't just for Apple and Google anymore.
Some really great examples if innovation insights include:
Developing clear definitions and metrics for innovation: "... innovation often fails because there is too much focus on the product or technology aspect of innovation. We need a more holistic approach to innovation; an approach that not only focuses on products and technologies, but also on services and processes."
Upgrading the innovation skills of every individual: "... you wouldn't expect someone to hit a 220-yard golf shot without a bit of training, and the same is true of innovation."
Deploying innovation tools through the organization: "... tools that aim to reintroduce play into the workplace as a way to boost creativity, reviving an old tradition quashed by Taylorism and bureaucracy."
Knocking down the hurdles that frustrate innovation: ".. two changes to bust innovation-sapping bureaucracy and make individuals feel like members of small start-ups: (1) dismantle hierarchical reporting relationships in favor of lateral peer relationships and (2) do away with formal, and often artificial, groupings of "teams" and "groups."
The list goes on, with really great ideas and insights. The point of all this, is that there are a lot of ways to generate or enable innovation in your company. Innovation is not meant to be a buzz-word, that becomes a bullet-point on a presentation or sales brochure. Innovation is the act of doing something new and different for positive reasons. Innovation is stepping outside of the lines, ignoring the constraints that prevent people from doing greater things in lieu of staying "in compliance." Innovation is not being afraid of doing something different and better.
Take a read of the summary, and then take off your corporate hat for a moment and consider the myriad of possibilities available to you and your organization, to make innovation a commonplace reality.
Because Apple and Google shouldn't be the only companies that use innovation actively every day...