Innovation management is something that should happen at all levels of an organization. Any time a person in an organization evaluates responding to a problem or an opportunity, that evaluation should include whether innovation is the best response to that problem or opportunity. As you do that, you develop a portfolio of responses, and a sub-set of those is your portfolio of innovation. There should be innovation discussions all the way from the most strategic to the most tactical, and managing the costs, risks, expectations, and results can be a big job. Does this mean people should have innovation at every corner of their organizations? That’s unlikely. An organization should have a pretty clear sense of where innovation will, and won’t add the kind of value they need.
a) If you don’t make innovation part of your daily conversation, it cannot become a successful part of their management style. It’s a little bit like continuous improvement that way. People don’t ever list continuous improvement on their daily task list – it needs to be a part of every task. Similarly with innovation, you need to make it part of your daily conversation.
b) A lot of people fail to define innovation. That’s key. My definition is that innovation is on the extreme end of the change spectrum. Starting out small with a minor tuning change, getting progressively bigger to something like a “project” where, a bit like a home remodel, you can recognize what was there before, but it’s also noticeably different. Innovation is when you change something so drastically it doesn’t resemble what was there before. Checking in for a flight on your laptop in a hotel room doesn’t resemble the experience of going to the counter and talking with an airline employee. You don’t have to agree with my definition, but you need a definition.
c) Somewhat related to the previous point, some people confuse creativity with innovation. Creativity is like lightning striking – you never know where it will happen next. Innovation, when done right, is something that comes as a result of a rigorous and disciplined analysis of how to respond to problems and opportunities.
Not yet. People still throw the phrase around too carelessly. There needs to be more standards and methods that people can use and compare themselves with others. That’s one of the reasons I structured my book Rethink the way that I did, clear methods with lots of different industry examples so that everyone can relate to it, and act on it.
I have some pretty specific thoughts on increasing the financial literacy of children, and as the parent of a nine year-old, that’s a priority. I also have some ideas on how to drive costs out of the US healthcare world. Stay tuned.