Corporations have antibodies that attempt to kill innovation. Six Sigma for example can take defects out, but it can be counter to the very culture that innovators seek. Companies need to protect ideas and insulate them from too many metrics early in the innovation cycle. Recognizing the difference between measurement and corporate self-assessment is important.

Design thinking vs. analytical thinking can help. Analytical thinking, which most of us were taught in school focuses on “why not?” It helps to disprove ideas as valid. Design thinking is iterative and allows for testing, trial and error. Companies also need to provide processes that aren’t cookbooks but rather that provide frameworks to help thinking without too much rigidity. Managing risk is important too. A tolerance for risk is important. All of the things that companies have done to create quality and efficiency often remove the room for innovation. Small teams are key as well. Some would say that re-creating AT&T Bell Labs doesn’t work anymore. Companies have to move too fast. On the other hand, four years from seminal idea to commercial success isn’t very long. Setting proper hurdle rates for ROI is key.

Cisco fosters “mass collaboration” to help it realize innovation goals and harvest its investment in acquired assets. Focusing your framework to leverage the input from people, and having the right leadership programs are also important. Drawing in partners and customers to facilitate innovation and open source models will also facilitate innovation. Recognizing the innovators and the people who are better at execution is also important.

The Wall Street Journal recently published videos on the topic which provide inspiration.

Managing innovation is one of the most daunting challenges that businesses face. Not only do they need to come up with new ideas, but they also need to foster a culture that encourages and rewards innovation. Otherwise, they risk being overtaken by their competitors. No World Borders can help you build the right framework for innovation. We’ll gladly discuss setting a meeting with you to discuss our growth strategies and innovation techniques.

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