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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

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.

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.

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.

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.....

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.

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.

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 :)

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.