Lets kick things off on the new Behaviour Business site with a comment on the very interesting and important topic of innovation. With the recent passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, I was asked to make a comment via zintro about what lies at the heart of innovation.
Is true innovation simply the product of a light bulb or aha moment on the part of the creator?
Maybe so. But, what is missed in this is some thinking about the circumstances that surrounded the aha moment. What were the working conditions that surrounded the appearance of this remarkable/innovative behavioural event?
In the case of Apple and other companies at the innovation edge, we might use the term culture to describe how innovation is fostered. Culture in this case referring to the shared beliefs and attitudes in the workplace.
However, I think that innovation has a more ordinary side that presents real hope and opportunity for organisations that want to achieve spectacular things. Which is that the structure of the effort to bring innovation to the marketplace is key and this is what Apple and other great innovators have really achieved. That is, these folks have a made a science of planning and strategy around how to be creative and different in the marketplace. In some ways this seems to be counter-intuitive. However, this thinking about organisation and structure relates closely to what we do to first encourage and then support those on the innovation journey.
If an organisation wants to create or invent a new, allsingingalldancing, widget, then it is not enough to hope that your staff will have a light bulb moment after their morning coffee one Friday. Instead, make the creative and innovation processes part of the scheduled work of your team. Like everything else that organisations must do, develop a vision for innovation; make it part of the organisational mission; develop a strategy, a plan and some measures; and then support your team through the creativity and innovation journey.
Then stand back and watch the ideas fly.