Saturday, 14 November 2009

Innovation is a perfect focus for Viral Change- Innovation behaviours Lesson 1

Innovation is a perfect focus for Viral ChangeTM. Defining a relatively small set of ‘innovation behaviours’ that can be copied and spread via a champions community is the fastest way to create a true culture of innovation.

Example: imagine 1000 people systematically asking the question ‘Can it (could it) be done differently? Faster? Cheaper? Better?’ at the end of meetings, at the creation of business plans, at the post-mortem review of projects... Systematically, virally embedded, tipping points created = ‘it is the norm’. A true internal epidemic of curiosity and inquiry. That is an innovation culture.

To look at Google (which I like big time anyway) or 3M as a ‘model of innovation culture’ is plain distraction, very well spread by people who don’t have much to say about innovation...

[Ages ago in my previous life I attended several Business School Executive courses. It was customary at that time to show videos of Saint Jack Welch, then CEO of GE, and hundreds of slides about how clever ABB was . I promised that if I found myself in another forum where Jack Welch was mentioned I would walk out. So I did several times. It seemed to me that the invocation to the Saint was ALL people had to say about managing things properly (and I had lots of question marks on this by the way). Today, many years later, I am about to make the same promise to myself of walking out of innovation conferences/meetings/presentations where 3M-cum-post-Its is brought in. I could be more tolerant with Google since there is a lot to learn and the presenter may, after all, surprise me but please, please, could presenters/speakers/so-called-gurus get at least a bit deeper in the famous example of the 15% or 20% time that those employees enjoy, to ‘their own projects’?? Most people still think that this is ‘the answer to innovation’, without realising how ‘strict’ this rule is to companies that use it... OK, digression as usual, I am coming back.]

A typical ‘lesson 1’ I use in workshops/preparations/uncovering non negotiable behaviours work in the innovation/viral change area is the discussion around the saying ‘When the only thing you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’. Seth’s blog post expands it in an interesting angle looking at publishing. As usual, it is difficult to put it better than Seth.
Seth's Blog: Hammer time

PS. My new bookInnovactions: escaping the me-too company’ – where I address innovation from the behavioural+viral side - wont be ready until February, sorry!

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