How much of what your organization is doing is exactly what you’ve been doing for the last decade?

Today, many organizations, inspired by the success of Apple’s iPod or Cirque du Soleil (or for that matter Fellowship Church), are attempting to jump start their creative edge by structuring innovation.  If you look around you’ll find everything from a suggestion box strategy to calendered brainstorming sessions.  But the question might be, are those tactics going to result in real innovation?

This week’s BusinessWeek Online has a fascinating article on the starting place for innovation by Jeneanne Rae.  Arguing against idea management, Rae makes some great points that will benefit all of us who are working to develop innovative new ways to take our organizations to the next level.

One of the main points in the article is that "ideas [themselves] shouldn’t be the starting place for
innovation. Rather, the place to begin is corporate strategy—where the
goals and aspirations for the organization are normally set. While I am
not a fan of collecting random ideas, I am a big fan of idea generation
against focused objectives. This is where the fusion of business
strategy and classic design thinking can pay off in an enormous way."

Think about the implications of that statement.  What she’s saying is that the first step needs to be a clear understanding of what you’re trying to do.  Begin there.  Once your mission and strategy is in place…then work to develop ideas against "focused objectives".  This could be a place for the 7 rules for maximizing your creative output.

Rae also makes the point that systemic innovation is really about leadership.  "Being more innovative is simply easier when you know what you are
after. Leadership plays a big role here—it is the responsibility of
management to articulate priorities. Therefore, given limited
resources, saying what you’re not going to do becomes an important
reference point as well."

Who among us wouldn’t want to develop the iPod of our own space?  Well…it starts with leadership that articulate priorities and is clear about what a win looks like.  Interesting stuff don’t you think?

You can read the whole article here.

Thanks to Tony Morgan for the link!    

Becoming a Systemic Innovator