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Innovating Innovation

With the Innovating Innovation challenge we’re looking for your stories and hacks on how to make innovation a real capability in organizations.  With the Quick MIX, we gave you an easy way to engage and inspire others on a related question: what is the one thing you’d change to make organizations more innovation-friendly?

Like the M-Prize, this process was open to everyone.  The best contributions are being recognized on our blog, on HBR.org, and in the social media channels of the MIX, Harvard Business Review and McKinsey & Company.

What is the one thing you'd change to make organizations more innovation-friendly?

Submitted Ideas

Constructive Criticisim

Idea by Basma Al Nabulsi on November 20, 2012
If organizations stop dealing with criticisms in a defensive manner, they make room for constructive contribution to their work plans. Be it a private sector company or a government institution, engaging people through social media produces new content instead of one-way channel communication. Invest in Social Media.

End the creative apartheid now!

Idea by Michele Zanini on November 20, 2012
For the most part, innovation is still relegated to organizational ghettos--it is still the responsibility of dedicated units like new product development and R&D, where creative types are kept safely out of the way of those who have to "run the business." In a world where innovation is more essential than ever, this sort of chauvinism is wrongheaded. If folks don't appear to be creative at work, it's not because they lack imagination--it's because they lack the opportunity and support.

Won't Get Fooled Again

Idea by Moises Norena on November 27, 2012
Organization get fooled when information is protected, unavailable, not democratized, re-loops are necessary and people can easily be miss guided. The value creation in innovation happens when information is converted into insights, making information (consumer, market, competitive, financial) available to everyone within the walls of an organization removes useless power struggles and drives attention to value-added activities.

Multiply the sources of funding for new initiatives

Idea by Michele Zanini on November 18, 2012
In most organizations, the only way to get funding for cool new ideas is up the chain of command (good luck if your boss doesn't like your plan). What would Silicon Valley look like if it operated with one giant VC? (hint: think Soviet Union) Here's a different approach: give all employees the permission to invest 5% of their budget in any project they see promising. This would allow "intrapreneurs" to be matched with many potential angel investors.

When you innovate, celebrate

Idea by Jonathan Opp on November 20, 2012
Create an annual innovation award for the best idea put into action. Whether it’s a new technology, new process, or any change that dramatically improves the customer experience. Make it a big deal. Turn winners into heroes. And make the nomination process open and peer-driven. This will get employees actively looking for innovation across the organization. The more they see it happening and recognize it in all its forms—the more it will become core to the culture.

Kill A Stupid Rule

Idea by Jay Millstead on November 20, 2012
In "Kill the Company," Lisa Bodell suggests a practical approach of "Kill a Stupid Rule." In small groups use a few minutes to answer one question: If you could kill or change all the stupid rules that get in the way of better serving our customers or just doing your job, what would they be and how would you do it? Sit Back.For 10 mins.,Brainstorm.Ask Everyone for their favorite.Pick a few easy/high impact and kill them on the spot. Shampoo bottle it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat in future meetings.

Truly flatten the organization

Idea by Ben on November 20, 2012
As Clay Shirky has pointed out, technology has dramatically lowered the cost of coordinated action, and formal, command-and-control organizational structures from the industrial era are frequently unnecessary, if not counterproductive . Removing hierarchical friction and empowering all parts of the organization to participate in innovation would have an immediate and substantial impact on innovation-friendliness. Truly flatten the corporate organization; don't just talk about it.

Put the experiments and trials score-board out of the game until the game really start.

Idea by MAX (Mitesh) Patel on December 1, 2012
Many times our organizational processes don't give us enough chances to fail and improve because they bring the score-board in the game even in the practice session. Everything we do is considered and measured into total efficiency matrix. All our trials and given time are considered as the chances given to us to prove our self. As the trials are meant to be failed on large basis they hand-cuff, discard the creative people with red and yellow card that you haven't shown the tangible results.

Make trust real at all levels

Idea by Deborah Mills-Scofield on November 26, 2012
If people really feel trusted - which implies (to me) respect, autonomy, accountability, freedom to try, freedom to fail & learn - innovation would become safer. I think trust is fundamental.

Target 50% failure for internal projects

Idea by Mike Anderson on November 26, 2012
If you hit targets 100% of the time (budget, delivery, timescale, KPIs etc.) then you aren't taking enough risk. Leadership should regard 100% as a failure of innovation and ambition. The ideal employee should get it right 50% of the time. To get this dynamic working in the organisation, individuals should stand up in weekly meetings, say what they have done, whether it was a success/failure, and what they learned.

making innovation 'human' -- choose people well and treat them like royalty

Idea by Alka Puri on November 20, 2012
All tools & technologies depend on one single factor -- how you engage you 'people' -- employees, suppliers, customers, all those who are relevant to your organization. So find the best people you can, and then provide them the opportunity to grow, talk, share, trust, do, believe, hope, play, and enjoy!

Throw away

Idea by Peter Koenig on November 20, 2012
Throw away organigrams. Throw away job descriptions. Let people define their own roles in the organization according to their skills and what they love doing. Let them either create their own projects or coopt themselves to projects of others that inspire them. They are going to do so anyway if they have any fizz. Redraw the organization chart. If they're unable to find their place, fire them - it's best for all. If you're unable to handle this, fire yourself! - it's best for all.

Get things (incl. innovations) done collaboratively, with a “checks and balanced", three branch organization structure!

Idea by Charles Prabakar on December 6, 2012
Among all Gov models, the “checks & balanced”, 3 branch model, seems, one of the best- as it, inherently motivates all branches to collaborate & GETS THINGS DONE, without anyone, becoming too powerful. Hence, I suggest a 3 branch org structure for corporations as well, with the CEO as the President, the BU heads as senate, the enabling function heads (HR, Strat, Fin, Proc, IT etc.) as congress, the board as judiciary, & the shareholders as citizens-all collaborating together, to get things done!

MC Hammer's innovation leadership principle: "U Can't touch This"

Idea by Moises Norena on November 21, 2012
Innovation projects and initiatives require a serious protection mechanism. It can manifest in different forms within the organization. It goes both ways, the protection mechanism should be effective in keeping it from being eliminated or take funding away in turbulent times but the project leaders have to find ways to effectively communicate the advancements. Prototyping is helpful to reduce uncertainty and make protectors feel good about their protege.

Protect innovation(r) s from their premature departure, with a “nothing is non discussable” type, face saving platform!

Idea by Charles Prabakar on December 5, 2012
Most innovation(r)s get canned prematurely, by sugar coated euphemistic arguments (no ROIC/g, not our way, been there done it, doesn’t work, light yrs ahead etc), but, when we peel its surface, it all comes down to 3 causal groups: cannibalistic fear, protect turf, job security.So,we suggest a “nothing is non discussable” type platform, where, anyone can voice true root causes proactively (& confidentially), with a face saving assurance that it’ll be dealt by leadership, with a win:win mindset!

Make it a process that can be excecuted in any device including smartphones

Idea by Armando Flores on November 20, 2012
Implement our process execution engine that does not need a big expensive BPM, but instead runs on a database, even in smartphone. It is cheap (20K), can run infinite threads of process and you can produce process in hours and include many. Makes it easy to prototype your innovation until you get it right. To program a process you go to a cloud based process programer, call the file, make changes and 'save as' the new process name. The next process will execute with the changes made.

don't wait for conditions - take action

Idea by Alan Arnett on November 21, 2012
The biggest barrier to innovation is that we wait. Leaders wait for staff to innovate - staff wait for permission/space/toys. The issue is not other people - we are the organization. Its not more ideas we need - its acting on the ideas we have with the resources at hand. Even if your idea is big, start small with what people can handle today - value progress over agreement, experiment over planning, and connection over winning. Get going, and bring people with you.

Drive by Crowd-Sourcing

Idea by Todd Noebel on November 20, 2012
Have electronic whiteboards throughout office/facility. ANY individual can post an idea/concept and it appears on other whiteboards for people to add their input. Capture these centrally and encourage teams around the ideas to build out the concepts. Primary rule - no negative comments. But do allow for, "if not X, than Y" alternatives with an underlying theme of "How do we make this true/come into being?".

Bottom-up Research and Development Program

Idea by Nicholas Van Zant on November 20, 2012
Attendance-optional monthly, weekly, or even daily meetings should be open to anyone and everyone in the company - providing a laid-back, "we're all ears" approach where "no input is bad input." When someone comes up with an idea, they are credited with the idea and they receive some equitable return for their input. On top of this, adoption of a program offering up tools for entrepreneurial training, gathering information and utilizing capabilities- cutting out the bureaucracy and red-tape.

Culture for Innovation

Idea by Myfanwy Marshall on November 22, 2012
Develop a reward system for those who develop a business case for an innovative idea (whether successful or not) and a demerit system for those who are a barrier or a nay sayer. Prompt first small ideas and have a platform for show and tell. Tie it into an objective or development element of performance evaluations.

Scrap "performance" incentives.

Idea by Mike Anderson on November 26, 2012
If you create incentives built around artificial "performance" targets, then you will focus behaviour on those targets. In some cases this is what you want (shovelling coal? selling cupcakes?). But it will destroy innovation - all you will get is narrow target chasing behaviour while the true innovators go unrecognised. Incentives in innovative organisations should be shared and non-financial (peer recognition, learning opportunities, working culture etc.)

Practice Selfless Leadership

Idea by Nan Mehta on November 20, 2012
Managers/leaders practice selfless leadership where they serve their employees rather than manage/direct them. They coach and inspire creative thought; then, remove org. obstacles, be an advocate, take the ideas up the appropriate chain to gain it visibility and get it implemented. Selfless leaders can manage less because when employee creativity is inspired; employees naturally manage themselves. They are self-disciplined, focused and engaged. Result: a contagious, innovation-friendly culture.

Customer Enables you to Innovate

Idea by Devi Prasad on November 19, 2012
Tracking pattern of customer behavior enables lot of innovation in business. If every individual in a organization involves him/her to "brainstorm" or "Informal discussion" on everything related to your business & customer satisfaction,tend to brings out the innovative thinking in you. Innovation can happen by anyone in the organization as long as there is scope available to think and experiment.