When it Comes To Innovation What Do I Do First?

Innovation Starting Line

If you are like the rest of us reading this blog, you have read much advice about being more innovative.  At lunch last week a business leader was commenting on all the skills and methods he was learning about.  "So much good stuff," he said, "I am not sure when I will know everything I need to know.  What do I need to do first?"

I told him, "the single most important thing you can do for your company is START."

So many excuses have kept companies from starting.

"We need to form our skunk works team and design our innovation space."

"We are going to a couple innovation conferences to listen to ideas first."

"We havenÕt come up with the right metrics, yet."

"We just donÕt have the right ideas to start innovating on, yet."

This is not "Starting". 

I recommend leaders begin with three fundamental questions:

  1. What is an Innovation?  Does everyone in your organization have a clear understanding of what an innovation is?  How do we know an innovation if we were to see it?  Do we understand the difference between a "Leap" and a "Core" innovation?  Ask five people in your organization to define "innovation", you will be amused by the results.  But if we canÕt agree on what it is, how will we ever know if we have it?
  2. Why innovate?Does our organization agree on the urgency of the need for innovation?Most if us understand innovation is the only way to overcome the business life cycle but have we clearly articulated what this means to our organization?Have established a clear sense of the urgency driving our innovation program?
  3. How are we doing with our current system of innovating?How confident are you of the organizationÕs system for creating and implementing new ideas?How successful has your organization been with innovation in the past?Did you design your innovation systemÉor did it design itself?You can be sure your organization has people who want to help you, are the systems documented and have people been trained how to use them?

Simple questions?Maybe, but the answers could hardly be more important to the success of your innovation program.Call us at The Ranch and we will help you with a simple Innovation SystemSurvey that may just help you with a better START for your programÉeven if you have been "doing it" for a long time.