Thursday, December 17, 2015

6 Key Things that Foster Team Innovation

Innovation involves two stages—the generation of new ideas and the implementation of the ideas. Meanwhile, creativity is considered to be the first stage of innovation. While we know a lot about both, there’s still not a lot of research to guide leaders. The routes to team innovation are still being developed. So, to help maximize creativity on your own team, understand that the road to innovation isn’t always as straightforward as we may have once thought.

According to Harvard Business Review, here are some of the key things that we do know contribute to innovation, based on a comprehensive meta-analysis:

A vision. Teams are more innovative when members have a common understanding of team objectives and are committed to them. Clear and valued objectives can create meaning and motivation for team members.

Goal interdependence. Goal interdependence is the extent to which team members can meet their goals only by having the other team members achieve their goals. You create goal interdependence by setting objectives that must be achieved collectively and by addressing issues, including feedback, as a team.

Support. Teams are more innovative when managers expect and approve of innovation, support members when their attempts to innovate are not successful, and recognize and reward new ideas and their implementation.

A task orientation. This is a shared concern for excellence that stems from the compelling vision. Teams with a task orientation set high performance standards, monitor their performance and provide feedback.

A cohesive team. Cohesion represents commitment to the team and a desire to be part of the team. Researchers see cohesion as creating a psychologically safe environment that enables members to challenge each other.

Communication. Strong internal communication allows for sharing knowledge and ideas, and creates a safe environment for providing feedback. And, external communication fosters innovation by learning from others and bringing new information into the team.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 12/07/15 - 12/11/15

We talk a lot about design in the product space but there’s also a lot being done in the internal company space with office design. Arguably one of the most interesting articles this week, Fast Company wrote apiece on a jazzy new tech office design in Montreal. Essentially, a software company by the name of “Lightspeed” is turning an abandoned train station in Montreal into a revamped office building. “Constructed in 1898, the train station was done up like a French chateau. But time wasn't kind to the building and over the decades, it fell into disrepair (thanks, Great Depression). Today it's the site of a $250-million mixed-use redevelopment project that seeks to revive the abandoned structure.” According to the article, the redesign of this location retained “vestiges of the past” while also incorporating rigorous renovations including scraping off layers of tar that coated the bricks. The images of past and present are incredibly stark in contrast and really showcase the unique design of this new office. Check out the article here

When the Highline in NYC became a major attraction, everyone talked about how innovative it was and how unique this was for New York City. Well, that same innovative spirit is now being harnessed to design a “Lowline” in NYC. You heard correctly. According to a Fast Company article, the same concept used for the Highline will be applied for an underground attraction that turns an old trolley stop into an underground wonderland. In order to set up a tester, there will be a pre-opening called the “Lowline Lab” to provide a simple taste of what the Lowline could look and feel like. “The Lab, which is about 5% of the size of actual space, features hundreds of plants and the same innovative system that will be used to bring natural light underground from the street above. That includes three solar collectors on ground level, each programmed by computer to track the Sun's rays. The light is collected into tubes, fed underground, and then dispersed by an elegant roofing panel designed by the Raad Studio, Arup, an engineering firm, and Lorne Whitehead, a physics professor at the University of British Columbia.” According to the article however, the catch with this plan is a lack of funding and permission from the space’s owners. Thinking positively one of the lead architects believes that, if all goes well, this project could be finalized in 2020. I don’t know about you, but as a NYC resident I would love to see this innovative project come to fruition!

After the horrific shootings in San Bernardino California this last week, there was massive news coverage on the issue of gun violence in America. However, many don’t know that the backlash on gun violence does not stem from mass killings like the one in San Bernardino. According to a Fast Company article, the outrage is over the daily shootings that are unlikely to make news. “While the massacres at Charleston, Chattanooga, and San Bernardino grab most of the headlines, the real outrage of gun violence in America isn't the mass killings. It's the daily shootings that may or may not make the local news. Columbine-type events accounted for just 2% of the 33,000 gun-related deaths in 2013.” In collaboration with Slate, “The Trace” (a new site about gun violence in America) mapped out these less-covered events and the results are shocking. This purpose of this map is to show individuals how many incidents involving guns happen around them. I think this was a pretty cool and innovative and interactive way to reach the public on a personal level. Check out the map here and see how close you may have been to numerous incidents.

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

9 Ways to Maximize Innovation

Today, the biggest challenge in most organizations is overcoming the fear of change. This means that most employees have a natural tendency to prefer killing innovation rather than implementing it because they are afraid they might fail. But, with failure, often comes innovation.

These fears and how every business can counter this problem are explored in a book, “Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation,” by Robert F. Brands, who brings years of experience implementing innovation as the founder of InnovationCoach, with a goal to teach how to drive a culture of continuous innovation into every work environment. Brands book is based on the implementation of principles of innovation originally developed by Google by Marissa Mayer.

Here are the 9 principles of innovation according to Mayer and Brands:

1.       Innovation can come from anywhere. Entrepreneurs should look for ideas from anyone, inside the organization or outside, but the implementation responsibility is all yours. Startup leadership and survival is all about execution.
2.       Focus on customer needs. When innovations are implemented that have value and acceptance by customers, business success will follow. It also propagates back inside your company, via happier and more motivated employees, and far outside as societal advancements.
3.       Target factor of 10 improvements. Many experts feel it is easier to make something 10 times better than it is to make it 10 percent better. This forces one to step away from existing assumptions and tools, and lean instead on creativity and thinking outside the box.
4.       Let new technical insights drive products. Every startup technical team has unique insights, which should become new innovations. All too often, these insights are ignored by the company, and developers leave to become competitors.
5.       Don’t expect instant perfection. Too many innovations get caught in analysis paralysis, and die an expensive death. Perfection is impossible in today’s rapidly changing market, and iterations are part of educating the market as well as your team.
6.       Spend 20 percent of time on innovation. Everyone in a company should be encouraged to spend fully one-fifth of their time pursuing ideas for positive change, even if it is outside the core job or core mission of the company. This approach works best if you can focus on hiring change agents, and incentive programs for innovation.
7.       Set your default to sharing. Information sharing facilitates collaboration and can bring in as many innovations as are sent out. It also increases market acceptance of innovations, by allowing concurrent work on integration, standardization, and support structures outside your company.
8.       Tolerate no negativity about failure. Stigmas for failing are among the largest gates to innovation. Failing well to Google means failing fast and failing cheap, all very positive attributes in today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive world.

9.       Instill a purpose. People think harder if they really believe their innovations will impact millions of people in a positive way. Work can be more than a job when it stands for something people care about, and involves giving more than taking. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

This Week In Innovation: 11/30/15 - 12/4/15

In early November of this year, Google released its latest addition to the inbox app: “Smart Reply.” What is Smart Reply you may ask? Smart Reply is a new function to the inbox app that allows you to respond to certain emails on your mobile device with simple 2-5 word sentences. According to an article on Fast Company that reviews this function, it works surprisingly well. “During my weeklong experiment with Smart Reply it was rare to receive three options that all failed to communicate what I wanted to write. I realized that most of my email replies could be summed up in the 2-5 words suggested by the application, and those that required more attention often started with one of those three suggestions.” According to the article, the development of Smart Reply was a direct result of collaborative experiments between the research and product development teams at Google. Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google claims, “’The current plan is to see how users respond to it, and if they like the feature we'll continue to innovate and grow on it.’” Sound like a solid plan, well done Google! This could change a lot about the way we use our mobile devices in an email capacity. 

Are you a dog lover? Do you not have the bandwidth or capacity to own a dog? Well today is your lucky day! According to an article on Fast Company this week, there is now a dog-sharing app called “Bark’n’Borrow.” Basically, the app matches dog owners with people who don’t have dogs but wish they could. “Dogs get some extra attention, dog owners can get a free dogwalker or sitter, and dog lovers can play or cuddle with a charming new friend.” The app claims that is vets each potential borrower and firmly believes that the app can work safely if everyone takes the time to get to know the other person. The article also states that, “For now, dog owners and borrowers pay nothing (the app also connects professional dog walkers who do charge a fee, but the main service is free, at least for now).” The app makes sense right? I know, for me, living in New York City does not allow for me to own a dog. However, I consider myself to be a huge dog person so borrowing a dog for a short walk once a week would definitely appeal to me. I would highly recommend anyone interested in this concept and the unique app design read the piece here.

You overhear it all the time when someone is complaining about cyclists. “Those bikers man…they own the road these days!” Well that may have been an overstatement a year ago, but now this statement holds substantial validity in Denmark. According to an article posted on Fast Company this week, Denmark is trialing what’s known as “RFID” tags on cyclists that will allow them to turn traffic lights green. “As they approach a junction, the tag sends a signal to a nearby reader, which in turn switches the light to green. Cyclists never even have to stop, even as car drivers on the other side of the junction are brought to a standstill.” This new move in innovation and design comes as an effort in Denmark to get more cars out of the inner city. Only set in a small area currently, the plan is to make this innovation city-wide. I absolutely love this idea! The only drawback I saw can be summed up in the last few words of the article: “Should we start feeling sorry for Danish car drivers?”

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Your FEI 2016 First Look

The FEI 2016 full program is almost complete! 

Next year's program is designed to go beyond the "front end" and cover the full innovation spectrum- from early ideation through execution. Here's a sneak peek at just one of the six core content areas being featured at the 2016 FEI: Front End of Innovation event: Strategy, Management, & Execution.

Strategy, Management & Execution

We all like to look back at the genius of an idea and how it was developed. But behind every genius idea, there is a whole host of work and execution that needs to happen to make that idea profitable. Put simply: Without the successful integration of ideas at the back end, innovation doesn't happen. These sessions focus on building a system and process to continually drive repeatable, sustainable innovation.

Featured Speaker:

Vijay Govindarajan,
Thinkers 50 Winner,
Best Selling Author, Reverse Innovation,
Coxe Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business

Additional Presentations on this Track from:

Volvo, Monsanto, and Grammy-Winning Conductor turned innovation strategist Christian Gansche.

Want to be the first to know when the FEI 2016 full program is released? To request a brochure, click here:

Use code FEI16LI for $100 off the current rate. Register here:

The FEI 2016 Team

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