Leading Blog






05.19.10

Where Does Innovation Begin?

innovation
Robert Brands is an innovation coach with a lot of experience with real-world product innovation. It’s no surprise then that his book, Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, is heavy on the consumer products side of innovation. Nevertheless, the 10 rules he presents can be applied in any setting.

Innovation is first a leadership issue. Innovation begins with the Chief Executive Officer who has to be the Chief Innovation Officer. It is the important first step.

Throughout the book he gleans insights from other innovators he has worked with like Jill McCurdy of the Innovation Center of the Rexam’s Plastics Division. She offers a few keys to getting started:
  • “When I think of ideation that goes awry, I think of too much overplanning…. It’s more about real strategies, and problem solving, and harnessing the right people.”
  • “Paramount is starting with a specific problem in mind, which helps to focus, or channel, the energy in the room and create just the right environment for success.”
  • Build a knowledgeable group attuned to customer or end-user needs. “And the group should be diverse, from across functions, divisions, age groups, gender lines, ethnic backgrounds, and company levels.”
Brands says that the team leader is the make-or-break factor in the groups success. That means that the management must lead by example. Their emotional and material buy-in is critical.

Overcommunicate and underpromise “without hyperbole or pie-in-the-sky verbiage. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it real.” And remember communication is two-way.

Knock down the barriers,” Brands says, “that keep silos apart by creating cross-functional teams between groups that don’t typically interact.”

Provide accountability and ownership. “Even the most technical of innovations require leaders with superior people and communications skills.”

Brands’ book details 10 rules to create and sustain a culture of innovation:
  • Inspire, lead, and drive the process
  • No Risk, No Innovation: Manage risk, without letting fear of failure kill innovation
  • New Product Development Process : Create a formalized New Product Development (NPD) process -- an absolute must
  • Ownership: Convince others to work outside their comfort zone
  • Value Creation: Build value for your Innovation
  • Accountability: Instill accountability
  • Training and Coaching: Properly hire, train, and coach -- to create, reinforce, and enhance your company's culture and mindset
  • Idea Management: Stay open to new ideas
  • Observe, measure, and track NPD results -- essential to optimal ROI
  • Net Result and Reward: Grow profitably, which benefits shareholders, stakeholders, employees, customers, and consumers

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:44 PM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation



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