Innovation Myths & Realities

Scott Anthony’s blog on HBR lists 10 Innovation myths and the corresponding realities.

I agree with most of them, but I wish if real life was so simple. Each of these myths have been built over a period of time and settled in our minds. It takes a lot of un-conditioning to accept the realities. More often than not, people will let go of the myth only after a personal experience. This means to make people believe in your realities, you have to create experiences for them or make them go through the experiences that will demystify the myths and make them work towards the realities.

Innovation : An experiment

Organizations tend to look at Innovation as a process that is based on a theory which in turn in based on experiments done elsewhere in different environments. And what they expect at the end of it is a well defined result which can be in terms of a business benefit, generating a better top line or bottom line.
I think Innovation needs to be treated as an experiment or a series of experiment, that are done in  well defined boundaries and are conducted freely within these broad boundaries. An experiment lets you play on the go. It does not have to follow the set process to the T, rather it improvises as it goes and has a better probability of both leveraging creativity and delivering better suited results for the business.
Over the last 100 years or so since the time management was born and adopted as a discipline, our minds have been so well tuned to the process, that no sooner we want to do something, the first thing that we do is put in a process in place. Experiment with your creativity at the cost of processes and you may be amazed at the results.

Ideas n Innovation

Vijay Govindarajan in his HBR article Innovation is not creativity tries to convey the difference between the two and the impact they have on the business.
One of my potential clients during a discussion said that he and his team believe that every idea is a good idea and must be treated well. They ran a ‘Give an Idea’ campaign and are now sitting on 7000+ ideas. I asked him ‘ What are you going to with so many ideas? Do you have the bandwidth to even look at so many ideas?”He obviously did not have an answer. This is a common scenario in many organizations.
Businesses, as of today focus more on Idea generation. I think this can be counter productive if not well balanced with proper execution and demonstrated results. You may gather a lot of ideas in first go, but if people do not see their ideas being respected, they will never again oblige you. From a business perspective also, an idea is useless is put into action, tested and taken to market.
There are two things that you need to do while asking for Ideas: Ask for ideas that you can use and then use them. This will improve the credibility of Innovation process and the people running it. If you keep doing this repeatedly, the process will create a pull factor for the next generation of ideas.