Category: Creativity

How come innovation make CEOs uncomfortable

Essentially, it’s fear. Fear of the uncertainty and unknown. What is the pay back, the ROI? Their bosses and shareholders need a defined path to future profits and sales.

Innovation is not an exact science, nor will it ever be. We can assemble the information about the consumer needs, develop and maintain the skill sets required to implement a development program, and manage the efforts according to Gantt charts toward product launch; however, it is the soft stuff, the art, the loss of control when instilling responsibility to others in the organization that truly enables innovation.

Jeffrey Phillips blogs on (January 4, 2011) that the Brownian motion of innovation that makes executive uncomfortable because it is easy to manage and control, requires a belief system, and risk taking that organizations are often willing to support or reward.

Innovation in consumer products

Kevin Roberts, President of Saatchi & Saatchi, suggests that each manufacturer should develop “lovemarks,” those feelings of an irresistible need for a branded consumer product.

Think of the following brands of consumer products: POST-ITs, Splenda, Starbucks, iPods, Gerber baby food, and many others and how they resonate with their consumers. The use of these products establish an emotional archetype with a fond and trusting memory of their past history.

What are the elements needed to be developed surrounding a new consumer product that can help establish these lovemarks?

Please feel free to comments about your experience(s)…….

Creating Creativity: Diverse associates stur the pot of new ideas

Having trouble with getting thoughts of creativity?

Identify a problem, and  and writing nothing but questions about it for 10 minutes a day for 30 days. He says that over that period the questions will change, and so will your understanding and approach to the problem. To build your observation skills, identify a busin ess, customer, supplier, or client, and spend a day or two watching how they work so you can better understand the issues they have to deal with. In a recent CNN interview, Marc Ventresca, a lecturer in strategic management at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, agrees that innovation is not an inherent trait, but a set of skills that people can learn.

He says the goal is not simply knowing lots of people, but knowing people from varied backgrounds, who work for different companies, in different industries, have different skills, and deal with different issues, so that you are exposed to varied ideas.

When it comes to developing your ability to innovate, Ventresca recommends simply setting aside 30 minutes a week to talk with a contact you wouldn’t normally talk to — for example someone you met at conference six months ago. Ventresca says about 10 of those members yield something interesting, and two of those 10 let you do something new and valuable — by investing just 26 hours a year you’ve come up with something pretty remarkable.

Balance in Innovation Leadership

Balance in Innovation Leadership

Balanced Rock June 2009

Balanced Rock June 2009

Most talk about leadership in the innnovation environment of getting things done and delivering. But how does one develop a “shop” that provides sustained output over time? Like Microsoft, Toyota, Sony and the like, developing an environment that fosters balance contributes to sustainable innovation. Balance between elements of personality temperaments and behavior work along many axes: science vs. art, turfiness vs. facilitating communication, speed to market vs. total solutuion, reactionary vs. pro-activity, and spontaneous creativity vs. disciplined advancing approaches. Balance often takes place without much engineering from management when team members originate from diverse backgrounds–one of the gifts of diversity. As the Eastern philosophy of yin-yang (i.e., the oscillating balance of opposites), leading innovation environments into sustainability often requires balancing changing and opposing forces and characteristics.

Leadership Styles in Technical Environments

Leadership Styles in Technical Environments

Wild MustangsMany technical environments are traditionally heirarchical in nature, so in many R&D organizations leadership styles are often the outcome of lord-serf relationships. This situation is an archetype of the academic environment from which so many technical professionals emanate. This leadership style fits well within the heirarchical corporate culture, yet how does one adapt their style to other types of cultures, namely, the market, clan, and adhocracy cultures.

Short answer: flexibility is the trait one needs best to adapt and align with other stakeholders notwithstanding the type of corporate culture, like the approach taken by Strategyn. Clan cultures are typically family owned and dominated by a single dynamic and sometimes charismatic individual who runs almost everything So in some companies, a it is best to be willing to share the limelight and credit yet simultaneously provide “push-back” toward an organizational tendency to switch research initiatives prematurely before fruition. Instead of succumbing to an opportunity du jour environment, a sturdy hand on the rudder approach wins in the long run–in the end, we all need to deliver to provide value.

Market cultures tend to be highly driven from the view of the marketing department’s needs (typically a good thing), which can quickly change from week to week or month to month, depending on the industry. For most companies with the market culture, the research agenda is set well in advance so it is helpful for sustainability to have small skunk works to augment the innovation effort. The adhocracy culture is innovation driven, so the opinion of the technical leadership looms large in the direction of such companies. Most any leadership style that is non-hierarchical can work, because the company’s progress largely depends on the pace of new deliverables.

In sum, flexibility to the particular culture and adaptability to change helps direct the leadership style that best fits with the culture and align with stakeholders.