Jeffrey Phillips recently wrote a thoughtful post in his Innovate on Purpose blog on the importance of proactive innovation - an approach that constantly seeks to find great ideas and to sponsor great ideas. What does this mean, from a practical standpoint? Jeffrey explains:
“This means creating a few well-defined problems, challenges or opportunities and creating a brainstorm or other method to submit ideas based on these defined challenges. Creating a context for your team and directing their thinking as they begin to innovate is important. The context helps them understand what kind of ideas your firm needs, draws bright lines to help direct scope and thinking, and demonstrates how the ideas will be used – showing that they have value. Actively seeking ideas early in the process demonstrates commitment to the innovation process as well.”
I like the idea of “drawing bright lines” to help direct the scope and types of ideas the firm is looking for. Smart, young employees want to be able to contribute ideas, and they want to know that their ideas will be valued. Otherwise, they’ll pick up their talents and move elsewhere.
Providing a context – outlining a handful of challenges the company wants to address, and providing some guidelines for the ideas that are needed to solve them - is a proven method for generating breakthrough ideas, and should be an essential part of your organization’s innovation strategy.