"As a student of innovation for some twenty odd years, I still find it amazing just how hard innovation continues to be." -- John Seely Brown (If JSB thinks innovation is hard, no wonder the rest of us find it overwhelming at times.)
Last month, the International Institute for Research sponsored a conference on Return on Innovation. It was an incredible sharing of information about how to measure and manage innovation and demonstrated how this field is starting to be accepted as a true strategic discipline. We had innovation practitioners from HP, Intel, Motorola, James Hardie Construction, Boeing, Air Products & Chemicals and consultants with long backgrounds in other major organizations.
We thought we’d share just a few of the nuggets gathered at this conference ... we have prepared an in-depth report for members of the InnovationNetwork.
** Ron Kubinski, formerly with 3M for 28 years stated, "Best practices for innovation include making it part of the performance process as well as part of the hiring process."
** Mark Turrell with Imaginatik, Inc. advised us to always remember that executives want financial justification of why innovation is important and sensible guidance on what level of resources to invest in building innovation capacity. Mark has developed an "innovation gap" calculation that helps senior managers see the magnitude of the challenge.
** John Wolpert with IBM reminded us that many great inventions and innovations were sparked by serendipitous events ... two things come together accidentally and a new industry is launched. Trying to create lightening in a bottle by bringing different industries and organizations together requires a field of trust, a strong process that protects each player, and an exceptional intermediary who can maintain the integrity of the system and the trust of all.
** Alain Rostain and Tom Drucker with CreativeAdvantage, Inc., presented a case study of a major successful effort to use innovation tools to reduce costs. They state, "Helping people understand the business reason for an ideation process and requesting specific, limited participation over a finite period of time creates greater participation and collaboration."
** Charlie Prather, Ph.D., with Bottom Line Innovation, Inc., presented two types of alignment: "There are two dimensions of alignment: vertical alignment connects the organization’s
strategies with people’s decisions and behaviors; horizontal alignment connects customer needs with organizational processes."
** Martin Curley with Intel explained how they use "value dials" to identify key business variables and associate monetary value to a unit improvement in the variable. This provides a common base for evaluating projects and eliminates a great deal of squabbling over numbers. For instance if a one-day reduction in inventory was assigned a monetary value of $2.37 million then people might argue about whether or not the project would deliver the one-day reduction, but they wouldn't argue over the value. (well, theoretically, at least!)
These are just a few of the many nuggets that came out of this conference. If you're interested in measuring and monitoring innovation, don't miss this easy-chair way of getting the meat from this conference. Click here for more information.