The nature of 'innovation'.
Quick! everyone scurry off and start working on the next big thing!!. Go discover the next iPod... come on.. hurry up.. what? you havent found it yet.. [taps at his watch].. well time is ticking!.. remember your competitors!... you dont want to miss out!.. the music is about to stop!...
The past few weeks has seen me doing quite a bit of work under this title of 'Innovation'... and it provided an opportunity to reconsider how true innovation works.. how great ideas like those of Tim Berners Lee (TBL) came to be planted in fertile ground.. and ultimately spawn the web.. that 'killer app' that made the TCP/IP technology that was the foundation of the Internet actually usable and relevant to the masses.
So what is innovation?.. Why is it important? Why do some things stick? while other seemly great ideas go nowhere?
For a start... I am not a big fan of 'iPod hunting'.. Setting forth over yon hill on a quest for a magical holy grail. Its way to Monty Python like.. complete with coconut shell sound track. The problem is this...Would we know the next iPod even if it hit us over the head... and strangely that is often precisely what things from the 'next paradym' tend to do.
What I do believe in, is in creating that fertile ground where great ideas can germinate.. where they can be sponsored.. coached.. weeded.. and not to take this bloody gardening metaphore any further.. give fruit.
How you do that? Its actually pretty simple really... You hire great people and supply them with great management.. you support both management (top down) and the operational people (grass roots) to engender a culture of collaboration, transparency, honesty and engagement.. [Am i really asking too much?] and then you encourage people to step away from the assembly line where they put the lids on toothpaste tubes each day and give them the time and empowerment to challenge the status quo.. in fact you make them responsible and accountable for doing it..
Sounds to me that 'Innovation' is really a spin off from Six Sigma... and thats basically Continuous Improvement or CMM dressed up.. Continuous Improvement is TQM in action.. TQM is... well, that's way too far back for my career! The point is, that far from being a 'new' focus. Innovation is as much about collaboration, culture and sponsorship as it is about finding the next iPod. Go get the culture right, hire the right people, coach, empower and support them and your people wil know what they are looking at when they see the next MySpace, YouTube, SpiralFrog or ?
I write this for myself and my friends who keep tabs on what i am up to, Googlepages is pretty primative.. you cant give feedback. (Which is not always a bad thing!).. but you might also wish to check out the Blog for additional updates and where you can feel free to post your own feedback.
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Disclaimer: Experimental futures are now enabled, so take care something untoward could happen at any moment.
Is that someone knocking on the door?