Innovation… Final Thoughts

It’s time to wrap up the series of posts on innovation for now… I’ve tried to lay out some of the processes I’ve seen work and identify the most common pitfalls.

In summary:

  1. Every long-lived company eventually innovates. It’s up to you whether you do it under duress or as part of your everyday business. I vote for option #1!
  2. Innovation is not just about harvesting ideas, it is a process and ideas are just the starting point. It’s not  just ideas & brainstorming, innovation is about execution and results.
  3. You cannot run a successful innovation program without a company-wide mandate driven by real buy-in from the CEO.
  4. Innovation fails. A lot.  Not only is that normal, it’s a critical part of the process. Your team needs to feel safe to fail.
  5. Dis-empower the NO-sayers. In the early stages of the innovation process, teams should look for ways to say yes and be very limited in their ability to say no.

At the end of the day, an innovation pipeline is like a science experiment. When a science experiment fails, the data gathered is still useful.  It is the same with innovation – a negative outcome almost always proves something worth learning.

And last, but not least, don’t be fooled by the allure of acting more like a startup. The most important thing you can learn from a startup is the speed with which they make decisions and execute ideas. Empower your team and give them the autonomy to get things done.