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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, 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

Demystify innovation

Idea by Azra Brankovic on November 19, 2012
Share detail on what you mean by innovation and what you expect people to do. It is not obvious to even experienced people. Consider having peer-led events to discuss the approach and behaviors that are appropriate to your organization. That takes off the pressure and makes innovation capabilities sink in informally.

Foster and open information culture

Idea by Gerhard Goldbeck on November 20, 2012
Open data and open access are revolutionising the way we think about things and as a consequence innovate. Organisations need to embrace this culture, make it their own, and actively look for ways that enable everyone in the organisation to make use of these vast resources.

Re-shore manufacturing with our advanced VizPlanet/VizPlant platform, with a “global reach & yet with a local presence”!

Idea by Charles Prabakar on December 1, 2012
With so much rhetoric being thrown these days, to onshore manufacturing, we suggest an advanced, win: win value proposition, to re-shore it, with a “global reach & yet with a local presence”, using our VizPlanet/VizPlant platform, that is designed, by combining physical devices with digital telemetry, to enable certain repetitive functions, to be remotely operated by global resources (without off-shoring the full plant), saving substantial non strategic cost. Plz read my VizPlanet hack for more.

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.

Instead of performance appraisal - a "make mistakes we can learn from" competition

Idea by Marcelo Michelsohn on November 20, 2012
Innovation flourish in an environment of excitement and not fear. Top leaders should announce an organization wide competition for the person, department, project team that can generate more learning from mistakes they make. The learnings should be shared. Top leaders should start the process by sharing their mistakes and learnings with all the organization, at least once a week, so people understand that this is for real. People should be able to comment and vote to choose the best ones.

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.

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.

The Future of Work is Play

Idea by Ross Smith on November 19, 2012
21st century Organizations must introduce games, play, and fun to spark the next gen creative class. Early civilizations integrated work and play to survive. In the Industrial era, work and play were separated and the world of work changed – from mechanization and Taylorism to the time clock. With the rise of creative work and the push for innovation in this new millenium, it’s now time to reintroduce play, games, and fun in to the workplace. The future of work is play.

Diversity: The mother of creativity and innovation

Idea by Shilpa Ranganathan on November 20, 2012
There is diversity in the world but not always in the workplace especially technology fields.Diversity is key for creative thinking.It provides the variety of perspectives and experiences that spark creativity,problem solving and innovation to propel organizations forward.Blending different expertise yields innovation.So in addition to gender diversity lets all build organizations where there are diversity in skills,demographics,thought,lifestyle,ethnicity, education and socioeconomic experience

Give Everyone a Voice

Idea by Dan Bean on November 21, 2012
Organizations create innovation walls. If you’re in an organization, you’re in the club and you have a voice into what it creates. However, if you’re outside the org, you are often separated by the wall of “not created here”. You can shout your voice from afar and sometimes you’re heard. You can ask club members to carry your voice through the wall and sometimes they do. Often there is silence in return. And innovation goes wanting. Give everyone a voice: lower the wall and then really listen…

Synthetic thinking

Idea by Alfredo Bregni on November 20, 2012

Make Failing OK

Idea by Viv McAlister on November 23, 2012
To encourage innovation you have to make failing Ok. Too many people are afraid to try something new/different because they are afraid it won`t work out and often this has an impact on performance rating and potentially earnings. Trying something new and failing should be seen as an opportunity to learn - encourage people to think about what they learned and what they would do differently next time and recognise them for trying something new

Induce disruption

Idea by Randym Jones on November 28, 2012
Deliberately inducing disruption -- to roles, business models, "common sense" -- is the best way to make your organization more innovation-friendly. By doing so, you jolt your business culture out of the local minimums it tends to fall into. The downside is that doing so creates an unrecoverable cost to the smooth flow of the enterprise: thus it's risk vs. reward. Disruption is scaleless, so it works at all levels. This idea actually underlies many of the other suggestions on this list. Do it!

Empower and inspire people to bring the customer into the heart of the innovation process

Idea by Lucas Godfrey on November 20, 2012
Firstly, organizations need to engage the customer in a dialogue throughout the entire innovation process, right from ideation to execution - not just talking to them, but listening to them. Secondly, organizations need to minimise the impact of organizational silos on innovation. Ensuring that solutions to customer-centred challenges are designed around the problem the customer faces as opposed to the architecture of the organisaiton is key.

Minimize the cost of experimentation

Idea by Gary Hamel on November 19, 2012
A company can't explore a lot of new options if it costs millions of dollars (or even thousands) to test each one. To make innovation a capability, an organization must master the art of rapid prototyping. It must maximize the ratio of learning over investment to find the sweet spot of demand for a new product, or perfect a nascent business more rapidly an inexpensively than competitors.

Make Every Voice Count.

Idea by C Basilovecchio a/k/a justaluckyfool on November 21, 2012
Read and listen to every, yes every new idea. Challenge, improve, or agree. “Believe nothing merely because you have been told it…But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis,you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit,the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to,and take it as your guide.”- Buddha[Gautama Siddharta] (563 – 483 BC), Hindu Prince, founder of Buddhism

Increase CQ (Creativity Quotient) throughout the orgainization

Idea by Jason Prunty on November 20, 2012
CQ is built on many aspects of the creative process. The ideas of design thinking plays a big part, as well as other concepts. But, we have to look at how the creative process is practiced through the company. This metric can be studied by, setting a baseline and studying the ebbs and flows of the creative practice through "everyday work". The more aligned the creative process is to everyday work the higher an organizations CQ score. The higher the CQ score that greater chance for innovation.

Encourage people to work using IT tools they like to use

Idea by Frank Calberg on November 20, 2012
When people are encouraged to use their own devices to work, for example their own smartphones, laptops, tablets etc., as well as media of their own choice, for example various kinds of social media / crowdsourcing technologies, I imagine that people will feel more empowered and motivated – and that innovative thinking / behaviour will be strengthened.

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.

Replace all mission and vision statements with: "We are here to improve life!"

Idea by Marcelo Michelsohn on November 21, 2012
Most people want to get home after a hard days work and tell their family they did something important. Proud people engage their minds, hearts and hands into creating something bigger than them. Organizations were created to make life better. Let's reinstate that purpose, including all the planet and not only human beings. CEOs should say "We're not here to make cars, refrigerators, shampoo. We're here to improve life. Let's use our knowledge, machinery and network. Dream and prototype!"

Add More Military Leaders to Executive Ranks

Idea by Nan Mehta on November 26, 2012
Former military leaders develop some of the best innovation-friendly cultures. They have the intuition, humility, fierce fairness and resolve for coaxing employees towards being creative and reaching their full potential. They use a blend of inspiration, support and opportunity-alignment in a way that ensures success.They are the truly fearless leaders, awesome advocates and great mentors required by employees today to achieve the massive change initiatives organizations are undertaking.

Encourage Exoerimentation and Risk Taking

Idea by Edna Pasher on November 23, 2012
I have learnt that lack of courage is the leading barrier to innovation. People are afraid to experiment, since they are afraid to fail. People within organizations look for security - or they would create their own organizations... So the challenge is to encourage employees who hate risk to innovate with a safety net - within the organization !!! This is an innovation-friendly organization - it breeds a culture of entrepreneurship for non-entrepreneurs :)

Parallel: A MMORPG designed for accelerating innovation

Idea by Benjamin Forestier on November 20, 2012
World of Warcraft have reached recently 12 millions users. Imagine that you'd have all this people working or should I say gaming to create and imagine innovative ideas ? People playing MMORPG are usally creative, passionate and skilled, good skills to innovate. So why not building a MMORPG occuring in a parallel virtual world in which the gamers could take the ownership of their avatars to create their own quest (innovative ideas). Moreover real project could be backtest in this parallel market

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.

Innovation has to go beyond products and technology!

Idea by Stefan Lindegaard on November 20, 2012
Does it matter that you have the best product or technology if this does not provide the best OVERALL solution to the customer? No, it does not help much. Innovation often fails because there is too much focus on the product or technology aspect of innovation. We need a more holistic approach to innovation; an approach that not only focuses on products and technologies, but also on services and processes. For this to happen, training and education across the organization is key.

Make Collaboration, the cornerstone of Competitive Advantage Culture!

Idea by Charles Prabakar on November 27, 2012
While Strategy is all about creating value, most companies end up competing for the same set of value slices, as opposed to, increasing the size of the value pie. Simply put, when the size of the value pie is enlarged, it is no longer a zero sum game, and so, companies are still motivated to play together, in a collaborative fashion. How? Make collaboration, the cornerstone of company's culture, by combining virtual & physical resources, as outlined in my “Innovating Innovation hack”.

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.

Provide a Natural Edge Refuge as Place for Creative Innovation

Idea by John Roth on November 29, 2012
Here are three incidences of a dedicated sanctuary, meant to facilitate individual creative exploration. The Jonas Salk Research Institute in La Jolla still conveys a defiance of time or style. The past-century poet, Robinson Jeffers, built the rough stone tower standing on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Carmel, California. The "Shining Night" composer, Morten Lauridsen, returns each year to Waldron Island, northwest of Seattle. No electricity or phones or running water.

Sheep Dipping

Idea by john macdonald on November 21, 2012
Ask the customer's customers to describe the best possible day they could have in terms of being successful and achieving their goals. Obtain a summary statement that holistically captures this. Then in 30 mins segments get them to describe how the day unfolds. Then share this with a team consisting of all parties in the value stream that exists to create this "perfect day". The trick is to let them think what it is like for the customer's customer.

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.

Move from Command&Control to Connect&Create

Idea by Dany DeGrave on November 24, 2012
First create an environment of trust and inclusion of a diversity of thoughts (and people).

end-user interaction with rapid feedback loop

Idea by K. Kwiatkowski on November 20, 2012
Projects & initiatives should have an end-user readily & clearly identified as well as what apsect of the end-users' needs will be in scope. Then let the interative loop of trial and feedback and trial ... begin - this will encourage more ideas and quicker learning to provide meaningful innovation.

Marketing for Everyone!

Idea by Julio Sanchez on November 22, 2012
Corporations want innovations that they actually care about, so why not having a free and visible source of marketing insights for everyone to see things such as new trends of consumption? While having the right policies and processes for innovation, making marketing available for every employee can foster innovation ideas in the way that companies need.

Shut The Email Server Off For 24 Hours

Idea by Aaron Anderson on November 21, 2012
I heard this from one of my guest speakers I had visit my course this semester. What if we turned off the work related email servers for just one day (as long as it wasn't dangerously life threatening). The distraction of people running their to-do list off their email inbox could be averted. Even better, if it coincided with a one day invention centric day at work - where everyone was require to invent a solution to a long standing problem.

Colorful Thinking & Dialogue Writing for kill " i " Inertia

Idea by S.Alireza Kashizad on November 20, 2012
Psychological Inertia is the main barrier for Innovative action.When " i " think about innovation,I involved with " i " inertia's. Our idea is: Colorful Thinking & Dialogue Writing... how? Dialogue Writing by our cell phones. With SMS we write the own idea and share it with colleagues, Friends and our Family.We make the Networks of ideas for Networks of problems. Problems of our Family,Friends and Organizations. Innovation-friendly is our habit! Because we can overcome to " i " Inertia's.

Budget time and money for experimentation and have an experiments goal

Idea by Mario Morales, CEO Innovare on November 20, 2012
A truly innovation-friendly company is one that allows people to try new things. Unfortunately, starting experiments in an organisation is very difficult. Some companies are changing this by having a specific budget of time and money for starting experiments and a company wide experiments goal. In this way, anyone that has an idea can ask for a "permission to experiment" his idea, which will get the person an amount of money and time to do it, creating a culture to do it company wide.

Zero Day Prototyping™

Idea by Andrew Chapman on November 23, 2012
Whatever the idea, prototype it. From a walkthrough of a new business process, to a new structure trial period, or a wireframed app – across any business function – prototype, test, fail, improve. Forget one-pagers, forget idea descriptions, exchange “so what?” with “here’s how”. Innovation leaders know the right processes, reskilling them to become prototyping practitioners enabling Zero Day Prototyping™ will allow the businesses of tomorrow to exploit valuable opportunities faster than ever.

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.

Defeat a "tear things down" culture

Idea by Chris Grams on November 19, 2012
Linus Pauling said "If you want to have good ideas you must have *many* ideas." Yet in many organizations, the good ideas never surface because people are worried they may have to defend them from criticism or attack while still not fully developed. Protect the idea generators by challenging those who tear ideas down. New rule: if someone doesn't like an idea, rather than attack the idea itself, they must instead suggest a better one so that the organization is always building, not tearing down.

Swap effort for talent (or Let's praise people for effort instead for talent)

Idea by Alberto Blanco on November 22, 2012
When someone is praised as “talented”, it automatically creates a subtle but driving pressure to protect his intelligence and reputation. That’s why “talented” people are so risk averse (e.g. tend to aim too low, or in some cases, to cheat the game). As a clear contrast, when someone is praised for effort, his cleverness is not at stake. Hence, he is free to stretch himself, try harder, aim high, and purposely fail (e.g. iterate) just as elite athletes, entrepreneurs, and inventors do.

Beer instead of coffee (if you like it)

Idea by Anderson Nielson on November 20, 2012
We do need trust at work. Why not put a draft beer keg adjacent to the espresso coffee machine? Why not really act as you really believe in "freedom and responsibility" in your workplace? People can drink beer to socialize and share new ideas, as they can drink coffee at work to "increase productivity" at work. Why not to being as happy at work as we are in a pub?

Employee ownership

Idea by Adnan Siddiqui on November 21, 2012
Let the employees take full credit of their ideas. Make sure that they get the limelight as well as returns from there idea and its implementation. Don't be greedy as an organization and in time you will have a culture of innovation and enough working ideas for a life time.

An Innovation Hack where the whole company votes the winner...

Idea by Peter Frings on November 20, 2012
Announce a Hack Day where teams present their idea. (Teams are encouraged to be cross-departmental, and are given a significant number of days to prepare their pitch.) The presentations are seen by/distributed to everyone in the company, who then get to vote. Lots of kudos to the winners... which is then amplified because the winning idea has to be backed and funded by the Board. This approach sends the message that anyone can innovate and that innovation is 'bottom up'.

Thought Collaboration Across All Teams In Organisation

Idea by Nilesh Puntambekar on November 21, 2012
Thought collaboration among memebrs of a team can be much maginified by thought collaboration within different teams. Most of times one team doesnot know what help can be obtained from other team or even doesnot believe that other team can help them. Intentional creation of cross-team collaboration opportunities help to create culture to ask for help outside team's perifery. Breaking invisible barriers among teams in same organisation helps to create innovations in unexpected areas or ways.

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.

Teaching to fail through new role models

Idea by Ismael Pulido de la Calle on November 22, 2012
In most organizations the most valuated leaders proudly display their infallibility through an impeccable resume full of success only. Also in business schools teach us the keys of management only through success stories, or sometimes through cases of failures adequately sweetened and always with a happy ending. I think there's a lack of adequate models of failure, to enhance the resilience of organizations creating mechanisms to reward the "good failure" out of the short term view paradigm.

Draft a social contract for innovation with your team

Idea by Ivan Gonzalez on November 21, 2012
Recently, we drafted one not only for innovation but for all of our decision-making processes. A social contract is basically an agreement among ourselves which tells us what principals will govern our interaction with each other. We landed on these: Be fully present. Speak your truth as you know it now. Experience discomfort. Expect and accept non-closure. Confidentiality. Gentle reminders. Watch your airtime- 2x B4 me. "Ouch!". A 24-hour rule. It has helped us innovate very fast!

Redefine Innovation: Make innovation easy, simple, interesting and fun activity for everybody.

Idea by MAX (Mitesh) Patel on December 1, 2012
If you ask experts, thinkers, gurus and real innovators what is innovation, you will get the answers that reflect Doing and Thinking different,Think Outside the Box,Cultivating new skills,Detail focus to customers etc.The definition of innovation build perception in people as you have to be God Gifted,Genius,Constantly learning,Practicing hard. These things demotivate many people to believe that are not much innovative or this is not my cup of tea and lost their creative confidence.

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.

Open Thinking- Focus and Flexible, Result that matters.

Idea by Omar MA on November 20, 2012
Creation of platforms that spark creativity. Fresh ideas that lead to innovations do not come on a fixed time (9 to 5). Technology runs 24/7, so as innovations. Focus on objectives, open whilst planning, flexible on implementation. The end result shall be amazing.

Show Don't Tell

Idea by Moises Norena on November 26, 2012
We can spend all kinds of time in meetings showing power points to explain how great our innovation process is and convincing our leaders of the need to drive more of it. Finding opportunities to showcase the insights, the prototypes, the way things manifest in real life, with the passionate innovators presenting them goes a long way when it comes to driving inspiration and behavior. Innovators must find and produce these opportunities to create internal "demand" for innovation.

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!

Make time to make mistakes

Idea by Johan Prinsloo on November 21, 2012
Allow time-out from project/production pressures to try new things. Display a huge heart and tolerance for failures.

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!

Teach everyone how to be a business innovator

Idea by Gary Hamel on November 19, 2012
Companies do many things to encourage innovation, but the most important thing is to train everyone from top to bottom in the art and science of business innovation. You wouldn't expect someone to hit a 220-yard golf shot without a bit of training, and the same is true of innovation. In my experience, you can teach just about anyone to challenge unexamined industry beliefs, uncover unmet customer needs, war game emerging discontinuities, identify underexploited competencies, etc.

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.

Jack and the Innovation Beanstalk

Idea by Alan Gard on November 30, 2012
It's a familiar story: Jack has some lowly regarded beans. After they get thrown to the soil they are revealed as magic beans. To drive innovation, get the organization believing they EACH are Jack with magic beans. This requires leadership's repetitive messaging. Then create an innovation farm, the place where everyone knows they can plant their magic beans, removing the barrier of "I don't know where to go with this idea." Nurtured well these seeds will produce an innovation harvest.

Ask for ideas, from everyone

Idea by Lisa McTigue Pierce on November 21, 2012
When you've identified a problem that needs solving, ask people around you what they would do. You might be surprised at some of the innovative solutions they come up with. Sometimes that's how a germ of an idea grows.

World-class Questioning: Challenge Assumptions

Idea by Claudia Lindby on November 20, 2012
Innovation must be a mental habit, everyday thinking for every employee. Build a challenger culture. The entry point is to ask questions that challenge all those (old) assumptions underlying our strategies, our operational plans, our decision-making... Train your ability to ask world-class questions. Train - and/or, allow - your people to spot underlying assumptions and to ask those challenging questions. And listen with an open mind. Welcome the new thinking.