The Overnight Sensation, Two Years in the Making

by James on May 21, 2009

Every single business, regardless of what category it competes in, needs business innovation to stay competitive. This means you need to take risks, you need to experiment.

Thomas Edison tried over 6,000 combination before he discovered “a filament of carbon of high resistance,” which made the light bulb possible.

But, if you are experimenting with your operating budget you will place undue emphasis on success. Requiring immediate success from business innovation, as would happen if funding came from the operating budget, means you will get immediate success. Nothing wrong with success. But this “success” will be at the expense of innovation. It will be incremental, at best, and won’t support the leaps in thinking required to be successful over time.

How do you foster innovation in your organization? The following Hip Shots will appear, on their face, to be counter productive. That’s because they are the antithesis of good management practices. You would never run a business based on these guidelines, which is why they work. Business innovation doesn’t come from business as usual; what got you here, won’t get you there.

Hip Shots

  • Carve off a percentage of your budget at the beginning of the year, consider it spent and gone, and use the funds for pure innovation.
  • Set your metrics to encourage experimentation. Determine the number of ideas, the number of tests, the number of experiments over the year. Measure and reward the process not the outcome.
  • Create a business innovation team from the odd balls in your organization. Find the square pegs trying to fit in round holes, the passionate troublemakers, the questioners of authority.
  • Encourage and reward failure. Give the team the confidence to pick up the pieces to try again.
  • When you see something with potential move the idea into a development team. The innovation team should be focused on early stage idea identification not product development.

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