Supply Management magazine recently ran a great piece on innovation from the head of SRM at Best Buy Europe (where they might have it together better than Best Buy USA where you are not likely to get a Best Buy Experience) on Creative Industry where he described the difficulty of jump-starting an innovation initiative in an organization which has not been innovative in a (very) long time.
In the article, he detailed and exemplified an eight step process which is a good starting point for anyone trying to get in an innovative mindset.
- Lose the Fear
Of being judged. Of disappointing others with your idea. Of just plain doing something different. Jamie says to be childlike in your approach and embrace the initiative with excitement. And if that don’t work, and it’s not against your religion, start with martini hour. Inhibitions are bad for innovation.
- No Idea is a Bad Idea
It might not be the right idea for the organization, but it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. In different circumstances, it could be a great idea. All ideas should be captured, and explored, at the right time, in a search for a better idea.
- Understand the problem.
What is the issue? What is the objective? It’s the measurement stick for any idea you come up with.
- Diversity is King
Have both experts and novices in the room. Make sure the novices are not afraid to ask “why can’t we do this”. Sometimes opposition is just knee-jerk. When there is no rebuttal to the question, you’re on the right track.
- Get Visual
Draw. Illustrate. Sculpt clay if you have to. Make a prototype out of cardboard and play-doh. Whatever gets people thinking differently enough to actually innovate.
- Safe Environment
Everyone is equal. No idea is bad. Freedom to speak up and speak out during the brainstorming process. Keep it out of management offices where positions of authority are implicitly conveyed.
- Subdue the subconscious
It has default knee-jerk reactions to everything and default knee-jerk visualizations for every concept and pre-assigned meanings to every word. This gets us through the day, but is not always good where innovation is concerned. (Of course, if you start with martini hour, this may not be much of a problem. 😉 )
- Be Committed.
Almost to the point where a conservative middle manager (who doesn’t understand the importance of relentless innovation) wants to have you committed. It takes a lot of effort to get an innovation project rolling, and even more to keep it rolling until the first positive, revenue-producing, output is produced.
This is a really great starter list and Jamie’s article on Creative Industry is really good. Take 5 minutes and read it end-to-end. It’s worth your time.