Inspiration: Strategos Innovation Update – The common 7 myths on Innovation

Posted on 28/06/2011

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Strategos Innovation Update skriver:

Innovation is by far the hottest management issue today; so, no doubt like many others, your organization will be abuzz with the rhetoric of innovation.  But here’s a question:  Is your organization, like so many others, suffering from a massive rhetoric-reality gap?  Does the reality of what is actually happening to drive innovative growth match the well-parsed rhetoric of the communications department?

If you are thinking right now:  “Hell no!” then it’s likely your organization is blinded by one or more of the seven deadly myths of innovation. Read on and judge for yourself:

The 7 Common Myths of Innovation

By George Chen and Ian Pallister  

Myth #1:  Innovation can’t be taught. 

Let’s face it:  few of us were born with the genetic material to think and boldly act like entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Howard Schultz.  But too many managers take this fact and extend it too far, declaring “you either can or can’t innovate.”  And that’s just plain wrong. Becoming more innovative isn’t a search for “natural innovators” inside the company and pinning your hopes on them.  Rather, it’s about leaders intentionally and proactively building new skills throughout their teams. 

One domain of skills is around developing new perspectives: about customers, the industry, and the company.  These include identifying and challenging industry orthodoxies, extracting the unmet and unarticulated customer needs, envisioning industry and market discontinuous changes, and understanding the company’s core competences.  Another domain of skills centers on conducting structured idea generation, performing disciplined concept elaboration, and defining low-cost learning experiments.

Remember, though, that skills alone can’t change behaviors.  Knowing how to do something doesn’t necessarily make the person want to do it.  If you want your employees to act more innovatively, you’ll also have to work hard at creating the right system of leadership, culture, organization structure, incentives, and key processes that embolden experimentation and motivate people to achieve new results.

Whirlpool, General Electric, and Crayola are examples of companies that have made long-term commitments and then succeeded in building innovation skills.  They deployed a systematic approach that included employee and leadership training, skill assessment and development planning, and mentoring processes, and they have made innovation an explicit element in leadership and employee performance evaluation.

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