How Innovation and Authenticity Complement Each Other in a Corporate Environment

Authenticity and innovation are two of today’s biggest corporate buzzwords. They are often considered as separate values, but in reality they have much in common and in this article we will examine the areas of overlap and potential leverage benefits.

Neither of these terms have the same definition from company to company, or even amongst individuals. For the purpose of this article we will use the following definitions:

  • Innovation is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. (reference
  • Authenticity is the quality of being real or true, and is best understood as a social construction that has been put into place to achieve a particular aim. (Cambridge Dictionary online and Library Trends (Vol.56, No. 1)

With that out of the way, let’s examine ways in which authenticity leverages and supports innovation, and vice-versa. Some examples include:

1. Authenticity and Design Thinking

Without an authentic approach it is difficult to identify those key pain points that drive the development of truly innovative ideas.

These days’ innovation within a corporate setting is synonymous with Design Thinking (DT) approaches. The fact is that DT requires a genuine understanding and appreciation of not only what is possible, but what is most beneficial from a client / end user perspective.

2. Roles in innovation

People often think that being innovative is a singular focus on coming up with the lightbulb idea that will change everything. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The reality is that innovation requires a range of skills and abilities, and few people possess all aspects (Suzan Briganti at Totem writes about this). Accordingly, it is important for innovators to recognize their true, specific skills in the context of identifying, selecting and executing new ideas.

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How Innovation Develops Among Individuals in Niche Social Networks

In the current digital arena, social networks have touched the lives of almost every human being on earth, allowing us to share life’s novelties with friends and loved ones. However, social networks are not restricted to sharing and commenting on pictures, but giving rise to innovation among individuals to help make our world a better place.

Social networks in the form of crowdfunding sites allow individuals to give wings to their innovative ideas for a new startup. Many online communities have also been set up to find innovative solutions for existing challenges such as: global warming, energy consumption, agriculture, space science, etc.

What kind of social networks are driving innovation?

  • Online project management tools from tech ventures such as FindNerd provide an android developer forumwhere tech people ideate and resolve queries as quickly as possible
  • Someone with a brilliant, innovative idea for a new mobile or web app can learn app development through social networks

Here is not the End.To Read Full article about How Innovation Develops Among Individuals in Niche Social Networks visit Innovation Management.

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Getting Innovation to Scale – Emergence (part 1 of 3)


Through scaling, smart movers can quickly build substantial market shares – or define entirely new markets. To help understand scaling we have divided it into three main areas: Emergence, Networks and Waves. This article is on Emergence, the first in a series of three.

We operate in business and societal environments that are complex, dynamic, and uncertain. This environment provides new challenges and at the same time great opportunities through scaling – which we have defined as the successful introduction of innovations that spread rapidly in non-linear fashion, seemingly self-propelled and with relatively little effort, resulting in an outsized impact.


Our research draws on scientific approaches such as Complexity Theory, Behavioral Economicsand Systems Theory.  We have divided the topic into three main areas: Emergence, Networks, and Waves. Within these three areas, we have identified different tactics for leaders to benefit from scaling. We call these scaling frames.

  • Emergence. As collective behavior, this frame refers to the phenomenon of patterns becoming apparent in complex systems of interacting agents. Innovation leadership can look to make use of emergent collective behavior by designing openness into a system and designing rules for interaction, which allow successful behavior to surface and spread. We have distinguished 13 separate tactics -or scaling frames- that we have clustered under Emergence.
  • Networks. Innovation leadership can take advantage of the properties of networks, the structures and technology supporting networks, and the social conditioning that exists with network members to scale their innovations. We have identified six distinct network frames.

Here is not the end….To view the full Article about Getting Innovation to Scale – Emergence (part 1 of 3) visit Innovation Management. Also visit our various programs of Online Learning Innovation Programs and also get updated with our latest Articles.


Collaborative Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing: Just Getting Started

Advanced manufacturers—people who make “things”—face the same challenges in the Digital Age as their counterparts that traffic wholly in bits and bytes. Relentless immediacy. Increased transparency. In this article, the innovation architect Doug Collins reflects on the results from a survey that the analyst firm Frost & Sullivan conducted as part of the Manufacturing Leadership Council. What are the more advanced of the advanced manufacturing thinking these days about the practice of collaborative innovation? Are they on track?

Collaborative Innovation: something for everyone

Broad applicability makes the practice of collaborative innovation powerful. A group in product development starts the practice. Another group—the retail store associates—picks it up to good effect. Human resources takes notice of the uptick in engagement. They come calling.

The people who make things

In this spirit I read with interest the June 2015 issue of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal. Frost & Sullivan sponsors the Manufacturing Leadership Council, which publishes journal every other month. Council members consist of people working at firms engaged in advanced forms of manufacturing (e.g., Cisco, Doosan, Ford, Tata, GlaxoSmithKline, and The Procter & Gamble Company).

It’s not the end…..for full Blog about Collaborative Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing: Just Getting Started visit Innovation Management.

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Where Do Good Ideas Go to Die?: The Problem with Your Old Idea Program

Our team found an example of one of the earliest workplace suggestion boxes the other day from 1721 when a shogun, Yoshimuni Tokugawa, wrote to his citizens “Make your idea known . . . Rewards are given for ideas that are accepted.’” This means that the concept of crowdsourcing ideas that can improve a city, workplace, or world has been around for quite some time.

Well, at IdeaScale we’ve been discussing some of the old systems that pre-date idea software and why they didn’t work. We’re talking about cocktail napkins, excel spreadsheets, innovation programs that were run entirely on a single innovation@ email address. The reason that most people are looking for a innovation management software usually corresponds with one of these three shortcomings of the old program.

  • It wasn’t scalable. Usually the volume of suggestions to be evaluated is too much for a single person or initiative.
  • It wasn’t transparent. Transparency is important to these programs for a number of reasons – finding new resources, recognizing talent, identifying bottlenecks, and more.

Here is not the view full blog about Where Do good Ideas Go to Die? The Problem with your Old Idea Program visit Innovation Management. Also have a look on our latest articles and our various programs of Online Learning Innovation Programs and Innovation Process.

The Creative Destruction of Your Job

With the exponential growth in the internet, we have seen similar growth in internet based companies and services. Many of these companies and services exploit the internet’s connectivity to be able to reach people who were previously excluded from a typical business’ day-to-day affairs. These individuals are often willing to offer their “expertise” in return for money, recognition or simply because it is fun (Ipeirotis, 2010). More importantly they are often willing to offer their “expertise” at a much lower price than an expert carrying out the same work with innovation management processes.

Admittedly, professionals in the respective industry have the opportunity to jump boat into the new form of sharing economy. It is an option but a very uncertain one. The sharing economy is often based on one-off opportunities for its workers. Sure there is money to be earned but it is typically not a stable wage and one that is not as well paid as the original job done solely as a professional.

Read more about the creative destruction of your job here

4 Tricks to Building a Successful Open Innovation Program

One of the most critical professional challenges that employees face today is being able to successfully manage positive change within their organization. Innovation is has become a watch word, with so many divisions not being able to find enough valuable ideas and then successfully manage those ideas into a commercial offering that sometimes companies even respond to customer tickets and bugs and simply label those results as “innovation.”

However, many organizations are still in an experimental phase and need help reaching innovation maturity. For those folks that want to get started, but aren’t sure where to begin we offer these four tips:

Start small

Many departments and organizations are intimidated at the prospect of opening up brainstorming. They worry about the value of ideas and intellectual property .

Build in some room to fail

Not every new project can knock it out of the park. 70% of startups never get out of their first eighteen months, 68% of IT projects aren’t delivered.

Generate some early wins

Not every new idea is complex or disruptive. Some changes are easy to evaluate and easy to implement with big impacts.


Once an innovation team has proven even some measurable value, it is much easier to apply those same processes and goals to other projects.

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Innovation is not always nice to have. Unless you play-to-win!

Because of today’s business hype for innovation we encounter situations where there can be too much of a good thing going on and successful companies tend to be aware of this potential pitfall. As much as a complete lack of innovation will lead to failure in an organization, left unmanaged, too many innovative ideas can cloud the judgement on which ideas are truly great. Innovation management therefore is crucial in the success of any organisation.

Professor Everett Rogers, communications and journalism expert at the University of New Mexico, gives the classic definition of what characterizes an innovation in a book entitled ‘Diffusions of Innovations’. He argues that anything claiming to be innovative must first be relevant in its spread and impact on society. Put it another way, whom will benefit from it really? Take the example of the metric system: there has always been resistance to certain innovations like this one. As we already know not everybody around the world is using this system of measurement although for others it is the long ago accepted norm.

So what could make us choose a certain innovation? It could be that we choose the ideas that feel just about right for our needs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can translate the same innovation to any group or market, or that implementing that idea will have the same positive effect everywhere. If you would have just invented the metric system how would you pitch it to a venture capitalist and would you even bother?

Just because it’s a great idea, it doesn’t mean that people will use it. The key is to pitch that idea to the right market at the right time. Context is everything if innovation is going to succeed. Once the key stakeholders have been identified it is then possible to elaborate a strategy by planning a process around the organization’s needs and culture and making sure that the right people are involved at the right stages to help the process flow in the right direction.

Play–to–win innovation strategy

The following case study of this innovation strategy at Procter & Gamble will reveal the imperative of a calculated, inclusive and flexible approach to solving a problem.

It was no secret that by the late 20th century, P&G had lost its originality. Previously a market-leading innovator across its flagship categories of detergents, dentifrices and diapers by the mid-1990s senior P&G management admitted that they had not had a breakthrough innovation since 1985, and the company’s continued market dominance in the years ahead was a question. Although P&G was still a formidable marketing machine, the organization had become slow moving and conservative. It was dominated by what competitors called the proctoids – bureaucrats in suits. In 1997, realizing these problems, there was a ‘think-in’ among a half-dozen senior executives.

The goal was to equip P&G to dominate the consumer goods industry in the 21st century as it had in the 20th. During that meeting, they developed a Play-to-Win strategy. They planned to create a more flexible organization and to increase the speed and quality of innovation. They also focused on increasing the speed of commercialization of new products. In addition they wanted to move the company’s focus to higher growth, higher margin business such as healthcare and personal care. Senior management was aware that they needed to overcome many obstacles to attain their goals. P&G’s new product commercialization process was painfully slow.

Disagreements between team members had frustrated previous attempts at significant collaboration and change. On top of that the working relationship between the brand managers and the technology development managers was often strained and painful. Despite the obstacles, senior management was determined to succeed. With the appointment of Durk Jager as CEO, a zealous pursuit of change followed. He changed the organization, the innovation processes, and the priority of innovation and almost every other facet of doing business at P&G.

The problem was that Jager tried to change too much too fast. As a result many staff at P&G became distracted by the changes and confused about the new way of doing business and had trouble performing. Growth slowed, leading to three profit warnings in three months. Several new product launches failed and the share price slumped along with morale. Within 18 months, Jager was forced out. With Jager’s departure, many felt that the drive for change would end and comfortable ‘business-as-usual’ status will return. They were wrong. P&G appointed A.G. Lafley as the new CEO, a well-respected employee of the company with 25 years of experience.

In contrast to Jager, Lafley paid a lot of attention to operational details, and used a collaborative approach to gain buy-in. He reduced the overly ambitious approach, scaling back aggressive goals from around 8% annual growth. But more importantly, he maintained the drive to change (innovation) but focused on priorities rather than inundating the organization. Lafley consolidated global business units from seven to four and fine-tuned the relationship between them and the market development organization.

He followed this by devolving decision-making power to the units. Restoring focus on leading brands he reminded everybody that the measure of success was not innovation per se, but the customers.

The lessons in innovation from Procter & Gamble

As we have seen in the P&G case study organizational structures can often be a barrier to innovation. The clear conclusion is that organizations need systems in place that provide the proper measurement, motivations, incentives and rewards to foster innovation that is aligned with the innovation strategy.

From our experience at Qmarkets, quality must come before quantity. A platform system allowing significant and meaningful stakeholder collaboration, evaluation and measurement of the best ideas could be the missing link to managing the strategy and delivering innovations that will actually benefit a large number of people.

Innovation consultants Davila, Epston and Shelton (2006) argue in their book “Making Innovation Work” that the primary unit of innovation is not the individual but the network that extends inside the company (R&D, marketing, manufacturing) and outside (including customers, suppliers, partners and others). Innovation requires developing and maintaining this network as an open and collaborative force, which is no easy task considering the complexity of relationships, motivations and objectives within these different groups of people.

The concept of innovation platforms, successfully used in various companies provides the required framework for the network. They can include networks of people inside and outside the company that have pertinent knowledge of the platform area, including customer insight, supply chain knowledge, and technical expertise. This enabling technology known by the name of idea management software, allows companies of all sizes to make innovation an integral part of their business without disrupting the overall organization.

The next important question is how to check the reliability of ideas at the different stages they go through within an innovation process, or workflow? Carl Franklin (2005) the author of Why Innovation Fails: Hard –won lessons for business mentioned the Delphi technique.

At Qmarkets we employ this technique along many others to improve the innovation process by making it easy for users of our innovation management platform to appoint the experts within the organization and within their particular field of expertise, and then involve them at key stages in the decision making process. The experts are required to give their opinion on a certain idea and encouraged to follow-up on discussions. The results of this process are then checked by managers who maintain a broad view of the strategy thus ensuring the viability of the ideas, which can be turned into innovations.

The results of applying the right innovation strategy re-inforced with the right toolkit at the right time, targeting the right audience and involving every stakeholder in the business can lead to an increased ROI, grateful customers and a good balance between the creative flow existent in the human potential of an organization and delivering market results.

Translating Unseen Needs into Innovations

The world is changing, yet people constantly assume, incorrectly, that tomorrow will be like yesterday. When business leaders make this mistake, the outcomes are generally bad because opportunities are lost. Competitive advantage is gained with the ability to transform insights into useful innovations by seeing the unseen. In this chapter excerpt of Agile Innovation, Langdon Morris explains how ethnography drives better innovation at a top-five U.S. financial services company.

Part of what is so fascinating about the transformation process is that, once successful examples are revealed, almost everyone immediately grasps the significance, and the world is changed. It’s a paradigm shift.

Even after the telephone was invented, quite a few people thought it had no value. Many companies, quite contented with the communication tools they already had, shortsightedly turned down the opportunity to own Alexander Graham Bell’s technology, and indeed a memo written at Western Union in 1876 said, “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” An enormous opportunity was missed.

This is but one example among a great many. A humorous list of similar comments is circulating on the Internet, in which very smart and famous people reveal their incapacity to imagine the usefulness or the possibility of new technology.¹

They said what?

On a Web page titled “They Really Ought to Have Known Better,” you can view a very long list of comments that are humorous in hindsight, such as²:

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.”

—Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

—Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

—Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.”

—Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873

“We are probably at the limit of what we can know about astronomy.”

—Simon Newcomb, 1888

Noted computer industry pioneer (in mainframes and minicomputers) Ken Olsen pronounced in 1977 that no one would ever want a computer in his or her home. (Today, not so many years later, my home has more computer chips in it than I can count.)

Lord Kelvin, quite a talented scientist, nevertheless revealed his own ignorance when he proclaimed the heavier-than-air flying machine to be impossible. He made this remark just a few years before the Wright brothers proved him wrong.

Speaking of airplanes, Sir Sam Hughes, while Canadian Minister of Defence, commented in 1914 that “The aeroplane is the invention of the devil and will never play any part in such a serious business as the defence of a nation.” Marechal Foch of the French War College said something quite similar around the same time, because it was a commonly held opinion.

These are examples of people making predictions based on their experiences of the past. This phenomenon is notable only because it’s so common—people constantly assume, incorrectly, that tomorrow will be like yesterday. When business leaders make this mistake, the outcomes are generally bad because opportunities are lost. Later on, when things do change, we wonder why we didn’t see something so obvious and simple, something that was staring us in the face all along.

Once you master the ability to see when things really are broken, countless innovation opportunities will unfold before you. You’ll then start asking questions such as, “How could this be improved through a different approach, a new process, or a new technology? How could this be radically improved?”

This way of thinking, of course, goes to the roots of the very process of learning, and developing skill in this way of seeing differently becomes a core competence that you can apply over and over in many contexts. The power of your new competitive advantage will be the ability to transform insights into useful innovations by seeing the unseen (understanding unarticulated needs), translating unseen needs into innovations (anticipating future or hidden requirements), and bringing them to market.

Furthermore, these competences must be developed at every level of the organization, not only in innovation or in research and development teams. In fact, the sales staff may be the most important group, because when they understand what hidden information is, then they can recognize it and use it to become better at selling, and when they know what good design is, they’re also better at selling. They have done this quite successfully at Wells Fargo Bank, a top-five U.S. financial services company.

Ethnography achieves $20 million in top-line growth at Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo embraces the power of ethnography and uses it extensively throughout its operations. For example, the bank conducts ethnography studies at client sites to uncover innovation opportunities both internally and for its clients, and to provide feedback to improve products and services.

Steve Ellis, EVP at Wells Fargo, along with EVP Pam Clifford and senior vice president Kim Pugh, had a brilliant idea to do a technology transfer project with coauthor Moses Ma and Michael Barry, a professor at Stanford’s legendary The objective was to teach the bank’s customer insight group how to do ethnographic research.

Ellis, an extreme snowboarder, explains:

When you go heliskiing, it’s about the feel of the mountain and reacting to the texture of the snow and the hill. It’s about intently listening to yourself, your body, and your emotions. In business, it’s about listening as closely as you can to the customer. So it made sense for us to learn ethnography, which is all about listening harder. We created a small team to literally camp out at a customer site for several days to observe how customers do their jobs and interact with financial services. I felt this would give us a fresh approach to look for ways to reshape our services.

Vice president Paul Kizirian was tapped as the first official Wells Fargo ethnographer because of his keen skills as an analyst, paired with a remarkable level of empathy. He manages client studies in the Southwest and special projects. Kizirian explains the correlation between listening harder and being innovative:

Listening more intently to our customers was both our objective and our greatest challenge. We needed to find a way to sit with the individuals who do the actual work in a customer’s back office. To do that we needed to align the interests of several key people: the bank’s relationship manager, the customer firm’s leadership, and the individuals with whom we’d be sitting.

At first the program was a hard sell because nobody had heard of ethnography. Relationship managers were hesitant: “Let me get this straight, you want me to introduce your ethnography service to the CFO [chief financial officer]?” And customers would say, “Okay, what is that . . . and does it hurt?” So we quickly realized that we needed to give something of value to our customers so that they would let us sit and observe their back-office operations. The service was free of charge, and we threw out the notion that they would only get what we paid for by wrapping up each study with a top-shelf consulting deliverable. The customer received insight into how they could improve business performance; relationship managers gained a much deeper understanding of their customers; the lives of customer employees were improved; and the ethnography team analyzed the data to identify opportunity areas for Wells Fargo.”

After a careful start, the group’s first few studies were so successful that news spread quickly through Wells Fargo’s grapevine. Before long, relationship managers were calling to put their top customers into the pipeline. Even though the group could manage only a handful of studies at a time, the service gave leadership something to talk about as not only a source of innovation but also an expression of the bank’s commitment to listening to its customers’ needs.

Customers and relationship managers started having deeper conversations, and although customers are, of course, never obligated to implement anything that is recommended, the team tracked results and found an unanticipated so-called side effect—every customer that participated in a study subsequently bought more solutions from Wells Fargo.

One customer, a global sugar manufacturer, invited its long- time relationship manager to its global banking roundup meeting for the first time, marking the first time that Wells Fargo had a seat at the proverbial table. Its CFO commented about Wells Fargo: “This is a bank that really cares about us and wants us to succeed—it’s not just a bank, but a partner.”

Listening harder has also led to many other successes. Here are two.

Ethnography Drives Better Innovation Management

Ethnography studies are powerful at accurately identifying previously undiscovered customer needs, and in one case, ethnographers identified an unmet need that kicked off a new service for the bank. Today, this service helps hundreds of large corporations manage billions of dollars in cash around the world.

It all started with cash managers, who log on to various portals to aggregate account information for their firms. Then they call, e-mail, and fax others within their company to ask about their cash needs and put all of that into an Excel spreadsheet to assess how much cash they will have and need in their accounts after all transactions settle at the end of the day. At one company, the CFO mentioned, “Every day we end up in both a borrowing and investing position.” One cash manager who works fast within a limited period refers to this deadline as a ticking time bomb, because daily she hunts down information from 15 people across 10 subsidiaries and three time zones.

This turned out to be a very consistent need across many customers, so Wells Fargo developed a next-generation treasury management workstation. Understanding the core needs accelerated product delivery by 12 months, saved millions by avoiding unnecessary features, and elicited customer responses, including “How did you know this is what I’d need?”

Creating a simplified solution that also solved customer needs meant that the service could be offered at a price one-tenth that of the nearest competitive offering.

Empathy drives $20 million in top-line revenue growth

The studies and final presentations were not a sales effort, yet customers bought services they had resisted for years, surprising the relationship management teams.

Ethnography studies also led to new ways for Wells Fargo to sell its services. After each study, customers described the shift in the relationship between customers and the bank as “being on our side.” The studies and final presentations were not a sales effort, yet customers bought services they had resisted for years, surprising the relationship management teams.

At one point the head of Wells Fargo’s Treasury Management sales asked a sales consultant, “What? They finally bought what we’ve been telling them for years?! I’ve been out to meet them for two to three years and they’ve never budged. What was it that did it for them?” to which the sales consultant replied, “It was an ethnography study.”

Because of these successes, Wells Fargo’s sales leadership asked the ethnography team to train the entire sales force of more than 800 to perform scaled-down versions of ethnography studies to give Wells Fargo an edge in the market.

The key learning is that sales professionals put aside their expertise so that they could listen, have empathy, be humble, and be curious about what it’s like in their customers’ shoes. By doing this, salespeople were able to transform their conversations, and Kizirian estimates that for Wells Fargo’s 1,000 relationship managers, empathy and ethnography drive a contribution of $20 million in new sales each year.

In summary, ethnography at Wells Fargo identifies the right problems to solve, and then innovation management helps find the right solutions. It helps increase customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and ultimately new revenue, and it is as effective with new product development as it is in the sales process.

One of the keys to success is that listening and empathy aren’t just buzzwords or marketing gimmicks; they’re skills practiced throughout the Wells Fargo organization. At the top, Ellis practices what he preaches—he regularly studies what the ethnographers hear from customers, and he acts on it. From the front line to the back office, it is now a cultural norm for people within Wells Fargo to listen to their customers actively.

Top Innovation Secrets

Being successful at innovation is a skill. One that takes time, patience, strategic intelligence and amongst other things, funding. Many organisations succeed only after they have experienced embarrassing failures and learnt some tough lessons in the process. How do others succeed with their innovation efforts? What is the secret? In this article we use the inspiring philosophy of Steve Jobs as stimulus and ask innovation managers about their “secret sauce for innovation success”. Learning from others reduce risk because resurrecting the organisational “innovation corpse” is not an action anyone should be tasked with.

Talking about “top innovation secrets” might be a bit arrogant. It is not that simple. Innovation needs to be considered in different environments and holistic ecosystems. It involves the entire organisation and a myriad of nuances.

Innovation is a popular topic of discussion and many organisations think of themselves as innovative or progressive. The taste of the pudding is still in the eating. Planning is one thing, delivering consistent results, however, is another.

Similar to other management practises, innovation management is an ever evolving discipline.

Similar to other management practises, innovation management is an ever evolving discipline. What we believed worked yesterday, might not be effective tomorrow. This rings true on the topic of strategic planning for innovation, business model innovation, appropriate reward mechanisms, innovation systems and implementation, to name but a few.

While we are putting in place the processes, structures and strategic policies to guide innovation outcomes, do we ponder the power of thinking big, reaching out or fulfilling a known or even unknown market need? Do we involve our own innovation ecosystem, consider open or semi-open innovation models or think about collaborating with SMEs?

Innovation is about strategizing, guiding and empowerment of staff but is also about co-creation, being different in your approach and about sustaining momentum.

Steve’s secret sauce for innovation success

Like Frank Sinatra, everyone has “their way” of doing things and so does world entrepreneurial legend Steve Jobs. Something that Carmine Gallo, in a new book entitled: The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, outlines as “insanely different principles for breakthrough success.” When these principles are considered one cannot help but notice words like “passion, magic, dreams, simplicity, decisiveness and great customer experience”.

Steve’s 8 principles are almost universal truths. Use it as background information and think about “your way” of addressing innovation going forward.

Steve’s innovation principles:

  1. Do what you love, innovation does not happen in the absence of passion. Passion occupies the mind and soul. It provides the fuel for persistence and perseverance.

  2. Put a dent in the universe – think differently about your vision and attract like-minded people to create magic for your organisation.

  3. Kick start your brain and stretch it to its “outer limits” – be creative. The same old thinking about the same old problems is not going to gear your organisation towards future success. The world we will work in ten years from now probably will sound like a fiction movie today. Silo mentalities and group think will not get you there. Collaborate and find the outer limits!

  4. Sell dreams, not products. Help people fulfil their dreams by providing products, services and experiences that make dreams come true.

  5. Say no to a 1000 things. According to Steve the answer lies in simplicity. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. This in my opinion can also refer to saying no to pet projects, trying to be everything to everybody and losing focus. Know what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. You cannot run a marathon without knowing the ultimate destination.

  6. Create insanely great experiences, linking back to point four made above.

  7. Master the message. In other words, be a corporate storyteller. If you cannot get people excited about your idea – the idea does not matter

  8. See yourself (and your organisation) as the brand. How staff acts reflects upon the brand. Most importantly, how you think as an organisation and entrepreneur will have the greatest impact on the creation of new ideas that will grow your business and improve the lives of your customers.

The secret sauce of innovation success for organisations

The “Steve-themes” provide valuable pointers that every innovation-hungry entrepreneur or business person can apply, whether you are a Steve admirer or not. So, from inspirational individual to the organisational context. What do other organisations put in place or focus on, to enable innovation success? What do organisations consider “top innovation secrets”?

When I had the opportunity to speak at a recent innovation conference, I posed the exact question to the audience and this was their response:

  1. Paint a clear picture – know what you want and set clear goals to get there. Innovation needs a purpose.

  2. Create real value – ensure that your efforts address a real need.

Allow for creativity, make it happen and expect it from people.

  1. Create an enabling environment. No-one can go at it alone. Allow for creativity, make it happen and expect it from people.

  2. Collaborate, lobby, empower, create the right structures and fund winning initiatives.

  3. Identify the good ideas – Use a powerful, clear and effective process to filter ideas and identify the good ones for implementation.

  4. Involve people, encourage teamwork and recognise efforts.

  5. Establish ownership. Innovation needs to be someone’s responsibility for it to be effectively managed and sustained.

These points do not represent a complete list, many more can be added. It is interesting though to note overlaps in the conference delegates’ responses and the themes of Steve Jobs. Whether we talk innovation or entrepreneurship, every idea starts somewhere. The power of passion, simplicity and “insanely great experiences” for customers cannot be underestimated.

Start somewhere, today

The reality is, innovation is not a nice to have activity. It is crucial. What you sow is what you reap. Of course innovation and entrepreneurial success will not be possible without leadership and determination. Determination should perhaps be written in capital letters. It is going to get tough. Changing a business model and diverging from the way we have always done it is often easier said than done.

The reality is, innovation is not a nice to have activity. It is crucial. What you sow is what you reap.

It requires hard work and persistence. It requires trust and transparency and a non-negotiable will to make it happen. It demands action. Yes, action and learning. We often talk about what should be done, deliberate for months on how to do it and then scuffle to find the right person or team to make it happen. Not everything will be perfect from the beginning – but start somewhere. Learn by doing.