The search for the simple rules that would create sustainable innovation prompted great responses ... thanks for participating. I was delighted to see comments from Australia, Sweden, Zaire, and Canada and from many different perspectives ... corporate, consultant and academic. I've added my four rules at the end of the list.
There is a great deal of commonality ... and individuality ... in these responses so I'd like to experiment with a second round of this topic. everyone is invited to participate even if you didn't contribute simple rules in the first round. Assuming that you are a leader and would to guide with simple, effective rules that would stimulate innovation ... or even that you would like to guide your
own actions toward being more innovative.
1. Think about your definition of innovation or use ours: Innovation is PEOPLE implementing new ideas that create value.
2. Think about your own situation, and assuming that you're already being innovative but that there's always room for improvement, read through the suggested rules below and synthesize four simple rules that could help you and your team, group or department be more consciously and productively innovative.
3. Enter your four rules in the comments section below ... and indicate any insights you may have had in the process of reviewing the lists of rules.
Thanks for playing and have a great week. Joyce Wycoff
"Simple Rules" Responses
** From: Jason Yip, email@example.com
1. Let's talk to each other
2. Let's just try it and see what happens
3. Let's trust each other
4. Let's respond to what is happening and what we learn
** From Lisa Haneberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
Joyce - Interesting topic. Here's my list:
1. Relationships = results
2. Great dialogue is our best tool for innovation
3. Ask more questions and make fewer statements
4. This company is up to something - it wants to make a huge difference and be insanely successful - we will strive to create the environment that has everyone engaged and up to something too.
** From Brian Barron, email@example.com
My trail on the road of innovation started in 1978 when I found this lonely little book in the Ballard Bookstore in Seattle. Titled "Innovation, The Creative Impulse in Human Progress" by William Kingston (a Brit)published in 1977, and now out of print, it listed SIX practical rules for innovation:
1) develop only the bare minimum to prove an idea,
2)prove only one idea at a time,
3)never develop what can be bought or modified,
4) minimise the time to demonstration,
5) insist on the highest standards of workmanship, and
6) do all of this with the smallest possible team.
Elegant. And many companies have wasted many billions of dollars because they didn't know or follow these six simple rules......particularly the last one.
If you can find a copy of this book, pay anything for it. I would, but I don't need to....now. (JW: actually you can get this book from amazon.com ... 1 in stock new and 21 used offered. Isn't it an incredible world!)
** From: Dr B.Bowonder, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Have a process for ideation
-- Use tools like triz
-- Appreciate new ideas from everyone
-- Understand customer and then innovate
** From: Simon Heap, email@example.com
From my research into successful Australian organisations the following would be my Innovation Rules
1. Think Customer
2. Handle mistakes positively...see my post on this at
3. Provide lashings of organisational support
4. Leverage concepts (innovations)into new markets
Of course you need the right people who are committed and proud.
** From: De Wet Coetzee [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Learn every day from everyone
It’s all invented (form Benjamin and Rosamund Zander indicating that all boundaries / rules are invented by you / someone else and that one should think outside those imagined boundaries)
Have Passion for whatever you do / for life
Remember Rule No 6 ("Don’t take yourself so seriously") (also from Benjamin and Rosamund Zander ... The Art of Possibility)
** From: Anne Robinson [email@example.com]
I guess my simplest general rule for any group or organization is that anything that isn't truly good for everybody isn't really good for anybody.
** From: Max Dumais [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Recognise and reward risk-takers
Design through paradox
Encourage the quirky
Challenge continually and sanction structural thinking
** From: Terry Rock [email@example.com]
1) There are no unaskable questions.
2) I don't care where you are or what you're doing as long as you keep your promises.
3) Assume everyone in the room is here for the greater good.
4) Sleep if you're tired.
** From: Sahlin, Christian [SR/GOT]
Here is my suggestions of "rules" to improve the handling of
1. Lead users as innovators
- It may not be appropriate to approach average customers when looking for breakthroughs.
2. Probe and learn.
Prioritize freedom to explore and experiment ideas.
3. Do not just focus on short-term benefits.
Innovation is the insurance of the company.
4. Try not to hit the target at once.
** From: Richard Weddle [firstname.lastname@example.org]
1 - Hire some strange people that HR would hate - dress code is gone - background is unusual - let them alone with customers and problems.
2 - Hire english majors, graphics designers, technical and conceptual artists - and put them in one place, at the disposal of the innovators to write the documents and create the presentations and draw for the innovators.
3 - create a prototype shop - for what ever industry you are in - product or service or biotech or ceramics, etc. to create working prototypes and tools for the innovators and help them be much more productive.
4 - hire a manager who likes whackos, nuts, odd balls, and knows that from these people will come the products and services that will create new markets, not just exploit existing ones.
5 - How to use these rules - toss a problem over the wall without looking and tell them when you want the answers back - and tell them how many answers you will accept and say nothing else.
** From: Melchor [email@example.com]
- Do one thing differently (from the way you normally do it).
- Try something new (that you don't know how it will turn out).
- Break one rule (and correct the consequences before the end of the day).
- Prove one assumption wrong (or true).
** From: Terry Tallis [firstname.lastname@example.org]
1. What have I sought out and learned today
2. What new and meaningful contributions have I made today to the vision of our organization
3. How have I today in my being part of this team contributed to its success and growth
4. What have I discarded today that is a hindrance to an innovative environment?
** From:Steve Hinton, email@example.com
These come from naturalstep.org. At the end I make the subject organisations instead.
By the way, the documentary, the Corporation shows how corporations are psychopaths and will never behave sustainably..Go see it!
1 Substances from the Earth’s crust must not systematically increase in the biosphere.
2 Substances produced by society must not systematically increase in the biosphere.
3 In order for a society to be sustainable, nature's functions and diversity are not systematically impoverished by physical displacement, overharvesting, or other forms of ecosystem manipulation.
4 In order for a society to be sustainable, resources must be used fairly and efficiently in order to meet basic human needs globally.
1B Organisations must not systematically increase Substances from the Earth’s crust in the biosphere.
2B Organisations must ensure Substances produced by society do not systematically increase in the biosphere.
3B In order for a society to be sustainable, nature's functions and diversity are not systematically
impoverished by the actions of organisations physically displaceing, overharvesting, or carrying out other forms of ecosystem manipulation.
4B In order for a society to be sustainable, organisations must use resources must fairly and efficiently in order to meet basic human needs globally.
see more at Inventing for the Sustainable planet..
** From: Keith Carey [firstname.lastname@example.org]
My 4 rules are:
1. Challenge ideas that don’t seem right.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because someone else probably has the same question, but is just holding back from asking it.
3. Don’t believe something is impossible until it realistically is impossible and tried.
4. Treat your customer as you would like to be treated with absolute respect and kindness.
** From: Joyce Wycoff, email@example.com
1. Imagine the future
2. Weave relationships and alliances
3. Observe the world
4. Experiment persistently