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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

Lead from the Top

Idea by Angela Woodin on November 26, 2012
The priority of innovation should be clearly communicated to all employees - innovation to be clearly articulated in the business Strategy, Leader Behaviours, and required in every person's goals. Innovation needs to be on the agenda of meetings, and achievements encouraged, recognised and rewarded by the leaders. Leaders to walk the talk. Without this leadership, everything else (tools, culture, process, etc) fails - people must be empowered & encouraged by consistent messaging from the top.

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.

Give everyone a "smart failures" quota on their goal setting

Idea by Mario Morales, CEO Innovare on November 20, 2012
One key driver to create an innovation-friendly company is have people lose their fear of failure. We have done this by providing 3 "permission to fail" cards to each employee per year. This means that if someone "fails" by trying new innovative things during the year, they can use the card as a safety net to avoid any punishment or negative consequences on their performance appraisal, bonuses, etc. For a card to be accepted, the "failure" should not be a negligence.

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!

People Mindset

Idea by Olumide Akintunde on November 20, 2012
Since innovations are made by people, people are as well needed to make these innovations work i.e. become business solutions. Aggressive campaigns should be carried out in-house just before an innovation is made. Employees, customers and suppliers should be made to understand that innovations are key to the mission and vision of the organisation. Sooner or later, employees, customers and suppliers would be acquainted with the importance of innovations as a means of increasing growth.

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.

Time to Talk

Idea by Donald STAVERT on November 21, 2012
Easiest way to get more innovation in organisations is to give the people who work in the organisation time to discuss ideas that would benefit the organisation . Put a bunch of workers in a room with a blank sheet of paper and ask for ideas and you will get dozens. The biggest challenge for the organisation will be responding properly to the suggestions

Moving the needle in the less sexy workplace

Idea by P T Navendra on November 22, 2012
It's easy for a group of innovators to discuss innovation. Lets look at the "average" organization. Yes, the ones falling in the lower tiers of the sexiest place to work list, the ones that don't get to employ the cream of the resource pool, the green fields of innovation opportunity, if you will. We should be able to interconnect our champions here with innovation drivers like the MIX to help set up internal innovation programs. We need to create an awareness for the want of this social help.

Get an external jury to hand out annual innovation awards

Idea by Meggie Williams on November 20, 2012
I was an innovation project manager for years. The whole focus on getting everything done within 10% of time and budget wore out my joy of work. It's the creativity, newness, challenge that makes working in innovation inspiring. Give credits for that. I propose an external jury simply to avoid company politics, to avoid awards going to CEO's pet projects or to a department that didn't get the award yet. Include an award for projects that didn't make it. Recognition goes a long way.

Stick Up

Idea by Ian Sherman on November 22, 2012
Start a white board in a common area that is accessible to everyone. Give everyone a stack of funky coloured sticky notes (from the junior associate to the CEO). Anonymous or not, allow everyone to; 'stick-up' an original idea (topical like customer service, or not), or stick-up a connecting or improving caveat to another posted idea. Provide white board markers to promote drawing connections between them at any time. Discuss the ideas that stand out at your next formal brainstorm.

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?".

Its not the WHAT its the HOW

Idea by Jose Tagle on December 6, 2012
Incentive systems can help employees take a first plunge into an innovation culture but for this to work managers must understand that what matters in not WHAT is given but HOW it is given. I have seen Banks give BMW´s and the winners complaining on the color. There is nothing like an emotional connection with the employee that innovates, with the employee that takes ownership on his job. Lets connect in order to make innovation friendly.

Making Big Turn Small

Idea by Eric Curtis on November 20, 2012
Organizations are too big, so we need to figure out a way to make big...small. Change can happen faster, poses less risk, and can be tested more effective in smaller size departments, groups, and teams. To make this happen we can apply principals found in the rule of 150. By keeping groups of employees below the tipping point of 150 we can be far more innovative and still be able to utilize effective team management at the same time apply change management in adopting the new innovations.

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.

Adapting offices to think and work differently ( we behave

Idea by Jean-Pierre RENIER on November 26, 2012
Offices are quite often standard in terms of furniture, wall, table, chair..... An easy way to create different work environments is to use the space by changing the traditional codes: create an innovation room without table but with some unusual appliance, set-up white walls to be used by people for drawing their ideas anywhere in the office, display the employee' picture at the age of 4/5 years old including in what kind of job they project themselves.....

Deploy Social Media Tools To Flatten Your Organization & Put Everyone's Opinion on Par w/ the CEO

Idea by Aaron Anderson on November 21, 2012
These days, there are a number of great social media tools that can boost communication and collaborative spaces in both real time & asynchronously. We have been using the Chatter function in our Salesforce CRM application for a while, but have migrated to Yammer as it is unhooked from the database as a more pure communication tool. Getting everyone in the org on board and using it puts every comment & post at par with even the highest member of the operation.

Create an environment that favor both extroverts and introverts

Idea by Tracy Huang on December 5, 2012
A lot of times we hear "to be successful you need to be assertive and outgoing". But people are born with a certain type of personality & they may not want to change that. Introverts may not be as eloquent as the extroverts; yet that doesn't mean their opinions are not important. They just need an envionment, or a new kind of management style, they feel most comfortable with to express themselves. See how Susan Cain describes the power of introverts at TED http://bit.ly/R8wuaa

Flank the obstruction, "human nature"

Idea by Jim Smith on November 20, 2012
With decades of really smart psychologists & expert management authors , it strikes me odd few deal with the importance of human nature Wikipedia defines innovation as "(Lat. innovare: "to change") rather than doing the same thing better." Employees will not risk their career to help, their perception of risk from management is their reality. Innovate, ask them to tell you anonymously the truly stupid things the company is doing! One client did it: $<300M> sustainable in 10 weeks. It works!

Cultural Transformation

Idea by Francis Jeyaraj on November 28, 2012
Structural considerations also affect the way in which Performance Management (PM) is been implemented. This is why there is no single way to develop and introduce Performance Management. Structure – the degree of centralization and the extent to which the Bank is hierarchical based. We need to infer the drivers for Performance Management. The procedural and design points can then be dealt with. The final arrangements for pilot schemes (2 Pilots) and implementation have to be made.

Create an environment that doesn't kill ideas with red cards and yellow cards

Idea by Mario Morales, CEO Innovare on November 20, 2012
Most organisations have a culture that kills new ideas and are not idea-friendly. We have invented something to avoid this, inspired by the red and yellow cards from soccer. If someone is caught making a negative comment about an idea on an ideation session or informal meeting, his peers can show him a yellow card, which signals that he is trying to kill an idea. If the same person makes another negative comment he will be shown the red card and must leave the room.

Disciplined Dreaming

Idea by Darwin on November 21, 2012
Create a platform where employees can tell their stories, passions, interests, etc. A social hub to cater the thoughts, the aspirations, and the ideas. From there, we can connect the dots by doing a holistic brainstorming approach, i.e., do what matters most in people, organizations and communities.

Unconditional love and trust

Idea by Naveen khajanchi on November 20, 2012
Its necessary to create a wholesome space of trust in the individual . Each individual is blessed with some wonderful qualities inside , nudge them with love and care to help him tap into them . Allow the freedom and space to experiment and fail yet remain objective with passion ...wonder's will start happening . Purposeful purposelessness will become the unsaid environment and culture .

Use a cloud-based wiki to get everyone on the same page

Idea by Aaron Anderson on November 20, 2012
We've been using a wiki for our whole team for about two years now. It puts everyone on the same page at the same time, and allows for asynchronous input as well. The big win is shortened in person meetings & we now have an archive that acts as our institutional memory. We can go back two years and answer the question, "how did we handle this kind of problem before?"

Forgotten to listen

Idea by Joanita Bonnier on November 20, 2012
The current economic crises reveals the dramatic state of current leadership in practice. Many leaders still believe that with a title comes a touch with some sort of a magic sword that makes them all knowing and powerful. And better than all the rest. To make organizations more innovator friendly I would like to force all leaders to experience the enormous wealth in talents, intelligence and ideas in their companies. Give room, listen actively and innovation will flourish.

It's innovation if its new to you!

Idea by Mark McDonald on November 20, 2012
Innovation can be daunting, particularly when equated with invention. Innovation is the introduction of something new, not necessarily something that has never previously existed. Anchoring innovation back to the idea of creating new things can make organization's more innovation friendly. "Using your eyes to plagiarize." Bringing ideas and practices home lowers barriers to innovation, reduces risks and creates change capacity. It's not a re-run it's a new idea to you that creates value.

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.)

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.

Think and Act Like a Start-Up

Idea by Gil Laroya on November 20, 2012
Every organization can benefit from being like a startup. This entails engaging your employees at the individual level, empowering each person to leverage their strengths towards a common goal. The startup mentality defines each person as a lateral component of the org chart, not a superior nor a report. What separates each individual should be their strengths and limitations, NOT their job title. Do away with "teams" or "groups" which feel artificial. Leverage abilities and generate confidence.

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.

Facilitating Idea Organization and Exploitation from the Bottom Up

Idea by P T Navendra on November 19, 2012
In many larger organizations, great innovation opportunities hit the graveyard on the ground-floor of management. While higher-up support and sponsorship is needed in both funding and training opportunities, ground-floor personnel should be empowered to self-organize, collaborate in healthy competition, and let innovation bubble up from the bottom. Too much upper-management involvement, no matter how good the intent, invariably invokes the invisible hand of conformance and nueters the process.

Breathing Space

Idea by Jill Malleck on November 20, 2012
Build office spaces with windows that open. Get fresh air inside the space. And then, build "breathing space" into the workday schedule. Make it a "norm" to take breathing breaks...in meetings, at lunch, during the day. Teach managers to call a "breathe break". Most people at work are so stretched and so "heads down at it" they can't innovate because they are starved for breath.

Don´t think outside the box, better yet think outside your companies boundaries

Idea by Andres Arcadio Rodriguez on November 21, 2012
I´m the country manager in Latinamerica for an Online Payment Slovakian company, and we had to create a presence in the region, instead of offering usual services, we decided to review the local legislations, and we found, surprisingsly, that some services usually provided by banks, could be provided without a full banking license, so we created new and very innovative local services that now are being offered in 12 european countries, mainly because we look outside our boundaries.

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.

Start innovating by stopping inertia

Idea by Jonathan Opp on November 19, 2012
One of the biggest barriers to innovation is inertia. The tasks that fill our days aren’t always the ones that will make us competitive tomorrow. So start by taking the time to stop. Short circuit the system that keeps people busy to refocus on what matters. Pause for a day. Ask big questions. Bring new people into the conversation. Listen more than you talk. Even if the answers to innovation don’t come immediately, you’ll forge stronger relationships with those on the journey with you.

Assume Innovation Will Happen and Staff for It

Idea by Braden Kelley on November 19, 2012
Often innovators are punished instead of rewarded. "Thank you for your idea, please continue working and use your personal time to develop the idea further." What if instead of % time (which is hard to manage) or treating innovation projects as an exception, time for innovation was truly part of the staffing plan - like vacation. That way organizations would have the human capital available, and employees and managers could schedule early innovation efforts in much the same way.

Fire everyone and then fund them as a competitor

Idea by Rob Schade on November 20, 2012
Change Employees Context - Tell a product team that they have just been let go from the company however as severance they get to keep the IP from their group. Now the team is told to actively look for ways to compete against their "old" company, identifying their weaknesses and trying to exploit them through product, business model and service innovation. Just by changing their context and having them try to defeat their current employer, great strides in thinking and innovation can occur.

In a stream of ideas some kind of deeper pattern will be evident

Idea by JH Eugenè Joubert on November 20, 2012
Staff - especially new ones - are mostly scared to think out the box and discover that new innovation - it might not be good enough for the shareholders or somebody might laugh at them - so they don't think innovation anymore. To be more innovation friendly one needs to then cultivate a let's talk and get all ideas on the table - once staff see that it's OK to stream ideas they open up and in that stream of ideas the deeper pattern will be evident - THE INNOVATION HUB

Ask people to give ideas and one of them to get 10% time one week

Idea by Marcos Carmona on November 23, 2012
Ask employees to give ideas about new things or diferent way doind things, and give one of that ideas per week the posibility of having the 10% time of the full team... you'll probably see some of them surprise all :)

several things

Idea by sherry on November 21, 2012
more info sharing on latest-n-greatest, less channels to pass thru for approval, reward staff for innovative ideas, practice what we preach at all levels, bust a move! strategic innovative gatherings a couple times per year

Consistently, recognize and reward free, bold, fresh thinking - formally and informally

Idea by Sridhar Dhulipala on November 20, 2012
On the premise that in any business environment, there is no problem that exists without some sort of feasible solution. It could come from customer facing roles, internal operations, HR, any corner of the organization and outside; from partners, vendors, customers. To create an innovation-friendly organization, it has to begin with a culture that encourages bold, fresh, free thinking, as a consistent, visible initiative that everyone aspires to, de-linked from other formal programs.

The Chapel of Invention and Creativity

Idea by Jonathan F Vernon on November 21, 2012
Hospitals have a Chapel of Rest - distinct in every way from the hospital environment. It gives you time and space to reflect, mourn and if it's your thing - to pray. A Chapel of Innovation and Creativity is also a space set aside that is in every way the opposite to everything else in the organisation. This kind of switching mode can help in both standing back from a problem or getting your head in another place - a guess the Holo Deck does this in Star Trek.

Time and time again

Idea by Dina Grasko on November 22, 2012
Having time to "waste" - to learn to think again, and not just produce, to play with ideas and let them form. To talk with colleagues and build energy. It is an investment because initially there might not be any tangible output, but the skills learned will come out in daily work. Thinking well should not be separate to everyday work, it should be part of it.

Help People Self-Actualize and Realize Their Full Potential at Work

Idea by Staffan Rydin on November 20, 2012
This idea is founded on a couple of assumptions about human nature and 21st century western culture. 1. Everyone is inherently creative. 2. Everyone wants to contribute. 3. Few people have discovered & developed all/most of their unique talents. 4. Few people have discovered their professional/personal purpose & vision. 5. When an individual’s purpose & vision align with the organizational vision then tremendous positive creative energy and drive is unleashed.

Create Smartstorming Sessions

Idea by chris wilson, function point on November 20, 2012
We are driving to build a culture with trust, respect and getting into what I call a smartstorming session. It's simple...committed time every week to smart storm or brainstorm and work on the job rather than in it. Put the bosses stopwatch away. Brainstorm and then set up a take away each week and create, create, create!!

In B2B sales impromptu brainstorms create the right innovations

Idea by Felix Gruijters on November 25, 2012
Too many innovations are created behind desks by people who think they know what the client wants. In B2B the salespersons can offer a clear insight into the client's requirements. At Nuon (a Dutch energy company) the sales person takes the initiative to set up an impromptu brainstorm. Typically he will invite colleagues from all parts of the company. Together they will generate a solution to the client's question. This shared approach creates a stimulus and a shared platform for innovation.

Make innovation a system wide effort.

Idea by Onno Geveke on November 20, 2012
In an appreciative manner, let employees ánd clients contribute to an inquiry into innovation. What, from the best what is already visible, can we reinforce for the future. Get the system in the room and create the innovation together. Thus, sharing the energy that can come from innovation, and at the same time create actions that involve both employees and clients.

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