Monday, October 02, 2006

Real Innovators

Innovation is one of the newest industry buzzwords, but often easier to say than to develop in a companies culture. Here is a great list of Eight Truths of Real Innovators, from Futurelab that could be applied to any company - large or small in how they think about innovation.

Truth #1: Stop equating innovation to R&D
Truth #2: Pay people to fail
Truth #3: Treat everyone as an innovator
Truth #4: Kill bad ideas quickly
Truth #5: Launch first, worry about the shortcomings later
Truth #6: Don't believe what your customers tell you, dig deeper
Truth #7: Don't try radical innovation, buy it
Truth #8: Mix elements that shouldn’t be mixed

Some additional comments:
#2 & # 4 - Combining these two into a mgmt philosphy - Its OK to fail - just fail quickly.

#6 - I believe this is true but stated with an incorrect focus. Current mechanisms available for customer 'listening' are inneffective. In the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about the pros and cons of 'thin slicing' or 'snap judements'. I believe this is a case where current listening techniques create snap judgments, and hence why this often translates into perception by a company that you shouldn't always believe what the customer tells you. So although true on the surface - maybe the more accurate statement is 'build a deeper connection with your customer, for more effective innovation'.

#1 - An important factor in a company is the relationship between marketing and R&D. Depending on the company product and industry, there is often drastic differenences on how innovation is driven. In general the more technical the company (and its products) is, the more that R&D controls/drives innovation. The more a company produces consumer products, it rolls up through marketing. However in the end they often both miss the mark since the customer is still often many times removed from the actual innovation. I read a great quote in an article about innovation at Kelloggs from earlier this year - Marketing Lays out the hunting grounds for R&D. I think this mentality definitly gets a company closer to the right kind of innovation, but I would suggest taking it a step further... Marketing lays out the hunting grounds for R&D, but let the customer be the hunting guide.

No comments: