This November, we’ve decided to take all of the many, many things we’ve written about innovation — and the conversations the subject has inspired — a step further. Our theme this month is “Beyond the Great Idea,” and while we’ll still be discussing some food for thought, we’re also going to take a more topical approach, strip the theories down, and focus on applicable advice, strategy, and the practical side of innovation.
A Little Bit of Everything
Digging into the nitty-gritty of innovation and what it means to harness it is not an easy task. In many cases, innovation has been misappropriated and thrown around, bullied by companies and people who want to make innovation happen but that have no clue how to handle it. To be fair, it’s a rare entity that isn’t at least somewhat guilty of using the word to appease a board of directors, or the concept to push employees towards something they themselves don’t totally understand how to execute.
That’s where all of the theories, statistics, trends, and other musings about innovation come in handy. It’s important to understand the purpose of any initiative, along with potential challenges and risks, in order to actually harness it. Shaping innovation into something with substance also requires willing champions who can interpret these bit of info into applicable actions. The right tools don’t hurt, either, which is why innovation management is becoming such a popular point of the discussion surrounding crowdsourcing, ideation, and processes.
Says Jenica P. Rogers-Urbanek, “Creativity, spontaneity, individualism, [and] easy information sharing are hallmarks of web 2.0 — but all projects need leaders to succeed. Someone has to be the first person to jump off the cliff.” The same is true of innovation as markets change and develop — it will be team and company leaders that hold the power to turn the next big idea into the next big thing. But, they have to be willing to take the plunge.
Equally as necessary will be an understanding of market relevancy, a willingness to adopt collaborative practices while still respecting individual value, and looking at innovative processes through the lens of research and data. As companies learn to treat innovation as a critical business strategy, capturing and iterating the mechanics will get a lot easier. Mapping patterns over time will give us a sense of security in our approaches, or at least something to point to when we want to change direction.
What’s great about the evolutions that are happening in innovation right now is that they’re being shaped by approaches that we haven’t before considered; stuff like gamification, or placing a premium on metrics. Going beyond the great idea means pushing the boundaries of what we know we’re capable of — and then figuring out a way to do it all over again. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help with that.