One hobby I enjoy in my free time is brewing my own beer. The obvious benefit is a fridge consistently full of beer, but what really makes it fun is experimentation. When I first started home brewing I would get kits from the local brewery supply store and follow the recipe. The results were good beer, but nothing truly unique. Once I gained a little experience I started to experiment more. The results became mixed. Some beers tasted great while others were great learning opportunities. Currently I have two kegs in the fridge. One is the best beer I’ve ever made and is based off a recipe from a local brewery. The other keg contains the weirdest beer I’ve ever made. I’m personally not a fan of it and it has been described by others as “not bad” and “very interesting”.
Topics: Leading Innovation
Who among us has not smiled at the “Netflix Event” story? The little upstart bringing a behemoth to its knees by defying the odds, reinventing the business model and disrupting an entire industry. As well as we know the story, these events are hard to see while in progress. These are easiest observed after the fact.
Disruption has been happening for a long time, consider…
- railroads destroyed the innovative “Pony Express” system…
- electric lights disrupted the candle makers and gas lamps…
- digital cameras disrupting film photography…
- personal computers disrupting business (and weekends!)…
- online shopping disrupting retailing…and so on.
All along the way there were gurus who knew everything there was to know about trends in the care and feeding of ponies, candle making, film processing, stenography and box store floor plans.
I was recently interviewed by my friend, Justin Zawaly, COO of TalMetrix about innovation & employee engagement...as Justin states, "One of the outcomes of an engaged culture is innovation. Innovation doesn’t just happen, or at least it cannot be sustained, unless both the employer and employee are thriving. Innovation becomes part of organizations culture and must be measured and monitored like anything else to ensure the creative vision is being nurtured."
Check out our interview below:
What does the term ‘innovation’ really mean?
Something that’s meaningfully unique. Unique in that it’s uncommon, unexpected, a wow or dramatically different than any other option. Meaningful in that it makes sense in your customer’s life. It improves something. It adds value.
Interestingly, so many of us over complicate this term. Others oversimplify. But in every case there’s something that holds true in everyone’s definition in a company - and that’s that they’re all different! One of the most common sources of misalignment on innovation is a common definition of innovation. And if I don’t know what we “count” as innovation, then how can I hope to know when I’m working towards it.
Why don’t more companies innovate?
We’ve all seen entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank pitching their idea and pouring their heart out because they are so passionate about it. Some say they’ve even remortgaged their home or spent their retirement money to fund their idea, only to hit a death threat that puts the idea in jeopardy. The Dragons or Sharks beg them to stop investing in their idea and kill it before it’s too late.
What a defeating feeling. Imagine investing a bunch of time and money into an idea, only to find a roadblock that is immovable. All those hours and dollars become a sunk cost and leave you wishing you had seen this coming earlier. This happens more often than you’d think – and even multi-million dollar companies experience it.
I recently read a post about the difficulties of becoming of CTO and the struggles of no longer being part of the “doing the menial work” crowd as it relates to a web programming department of an organization.
The job of the leader in this instance isn’t to be on the forefront finding and implementing new technologies, but instead to provide guidance on which technologies can be implemented - and when - based on the information provided by the person that researched it.
So often the leader of an organization or department sets boundaries on how far the employees can go with their research, “because I’m the leader and I know from experience what is best”. How do you know what is best now compared to when you WERE in the trenches?
Imagine the cockpit conversation…
First Officer: Looks like we are headed into turbulent air, sure glad you checked the annunciator panel when we started up and before we took off.
Pilot: Yeah, looks a little rough…wait, what’s that about the annunciator?
First Officer: You did check it, right?
Pilot: I’m supposed to do that before every takeoff?
First Officer: I thought so??
Pilot: Well, why didn’t you say something…
My friend, Wendy Ferris, at InVision Edge recently shared the article, "Costco's CFO doesn't belive his company is Amazon-Proof." After reading the article in Business Insider it reminded me of one of my previous blog posts and I thought it was worth another share. What I think Richard Galanti has that those before him didn't understand is that he doesn't believe that Costco in invincible.
The world is constantly changing. Nothing stays the same. Innovation changes the world on a regular basis. In my short life I have personally experienced life changing innovation in how I watch movies, communicate with friends and family, and receive world news. By no means is that a complete list.
What I ask you today is, "Are you planning for the next big world changing innovation?"
Our friends at Innovation Leader reached out to us last year and asked if we would answer a question from one of their readers. Below is an excerpt from Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education, response to the question:
Q&A: How to start training on innovation?
This member question was answered by Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education at Eureka! Ranch, which is a nearly 30-year-old firm that has developed a method for increasing innovation speed and decreasing risk. A partner of Innovation Leader, Eureka! developed a field of study known as “Innovation Engineering” with the University of Maine. Because of Eureka’s extensive experience educating executives at many of our members’ companies, we thought Maggie was uniquely positioned to answer this member question…
Question: Was fascinated by the educational / training data in your 2015 Innovation Benchmarking Report. We’re in the process of starting an educational / training initiative around innovation, and could use some guidance on where to start. Is there a typical starting point for these programs? We’re a relatively big company (15,000+ employees) and are struggling with whether we begin in marketing, product management, product development, executive management, etc. Any thoughts or best practices or the progression / trajectory of such programs???
By the time you read this, one of my three children will be married. “Princess” is my middle child, the oldest daughter, the first to be married. I am stunned. Before you ask, yes, I expected my three children to return home from college and be my little family forever. I expected them to never change, never take advantage of new opportunities, certainly to never move halfway across the country. I thought I would be all they ever needed to have a happy, fulfilled life.
I was recently searching for inspiration on what to write when I came across a list of creativity and innovation quotes.
What I found the most compelling was the list of creativity killers:
- "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
- Charles H. Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899
- "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote."
- Grover Cleveland, 1905
- "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
- Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros Pictures, 1927
- "There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
- Robert Miliham, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923