I sometimes wonder if the Innovation Industry isn’t looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The Innovation Industry consists of
several thousand mainly smallish companies that will gladly teach your company how to be more innovative. Many of them focus on the front-end of the process: how to have a good idea. You can find courses on how to lead brainstorming sessions, how to creatively whack yourself on the side of the head, how to do mash-ups, what to do with silly putty, and so on.
That’s all well and good but, frankly, creating the idea is the easy part. The hard part is doing something useful with it, especially in an established organization where turf is already defined. Let’s look at what happens once someone has an idea:
The process is complicated, time-consuming, and more than a little scary. It makes you wonder why anybody would ever propose anything. And, indeed, that’s what happens in many companies.
It’s possible to make your company more innovative. Teaching your employees to be more creative can help — but it’s not sufficient. Creative employees become cynical if they never see their ideas put into action. Before you ramp up the creativity, be sure you have the processes in place to put new ideas to work. The first step? Train your Idea First Responders. More about that tomorrow.