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. 

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