Until recently, innovation was treated as though it were magic, something that either happened or didn't happen but couldn't be controlled. We are now beginning to realize that, while we can't "control" innovation, we can create a culture and context where it is more likely to happen. And, we can use processes that increase the innovation success rate, which, according to Larry Keeley at Doblin, can be as low as 4%. One organization that has worked very hard for the past several years to learn how to replicate and sustain the process of innovation is Best Buy and one of the primary players in this initiative is Kal Patel, Executive Vice-President of Strategy and International.
Patel is an advocate for quickly testing new products and services, stating, "Every one of our associates is trained in a method that starts with a hypothesis, and then proceeds to stages like test and verify. At the end of the experiment, the Associate who undertook it reports out on what he or she has learned.
"These are quick ‘popcorn-stand’ like experiments. If we want to try something new, we might pitch a tent in the parking lot of one of our stores and test an idea out with our customers."
In addition to leading the innovation initiative at Best Buy, Patel finds time to contribute on a broader stage. He accompanied a Red Cross mission to tsunami-impacted Sri Lanka to distribute needed supplies. He stated, "Although the lives of the people here may be devastated, their spirits are not broken, What we are doing, in addition to providing relief supplies, is part of strengthening their spirits."
Patel will be a keynote speaker at "Unblocking Innovation," the 11th annual Convergence of people, ideas and great practices related to innovation to be held in Minneapolis, September 21-23.