Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Innovation Culture as a Team Sport

By Connie Harryman, Applied Concepts Creativity
Guest Blogger IIR USA
LIVE Front End of Innovation Europe 2010

Topic: Innovation Culture—Making Innovation a Team Sport

Urs Limacher: Senior Director Emerging Technologies, ZIMMER

Zimmer is a leading orthopedic supplier to orthopedic surgeons. The industry is 50 years old. They will be replaced by biological products. Their products do not heal.

Innovation culture involves a willingness for risk taking, curiosity, a willingness to change, openness for new things, and using one’s own initiative.
Urs Limacher handed out a graphical map illustrating seven success factors for innovation.

Success Factor #1: Provide clarity and guidance and build a strong case for change.

There are four basic growth strategies: strategic diversification, market development, products / service development, and market penetration. Whenever there is a gap then plan further activities according to the growth strategies listed above.

Success Factor #2: Collect and allow for every single idea.

They have 8000 people worldwide. They are not centralized and have virtual organizations at different sites. They do not report into R&D, marketing, or brand management. They are looking for ideas for process improvements and product improvements. Sources are both external and internal (focused here). They use ambassadors to bring ideas in from external sources. This way they get higher quality ideas. The time frame for an idea to be accepted or rejected is limited to 90 days.

Success Factor #3: Establish distinct roles and demands.

The not invented here syndrome will kill all radical ideas at the first level.

They have identified “Innovation Champions” with these attributes:

1. Able to identify customer needs, fields of opportunities and their innovations.
2. Form a pool of innovation champions—as trained tool specialists, they are able to hand on their knowledge to other employees –they push new ideas.
3. Serve as accelerator for innovations in order to inspire the 8000 Zimmer employees to be innovative – encourage and challenge the employees – assure management support.
4. Promote innovation and innovation management.

Success Factor #4: Break up silos and organizes virtually across existing structures.

By using the Innovation Champions, they enhance collaboration and team work across organizational boundaries. Supporting informal networks is important.

Success Factor #5: Nominate only the best volunteers. Look for both knowledge and expertise.

Be sure to review your selection over and over again. During the interview make sure people are really interested in learning about innovation.

Success Factor #6: Engage in “Give and take” – it is ongoing and you must do it in a systematic manner.

Success Factor #7: Promote your innovation system. You must communicate within the receiver’s Language.

Urs Limacher concluded with this quote:
“Don’t change culture – use it!” ~ Peter Drucker

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