Secrets to Creating a Culture of Innovation

These days have I seen an interesting Article in the Harvard Business Review, which deals with my favorite topic „innovation“.

I had to look twice, but in reality this article was not about innovation, but about ideation. As many people use a wrong definition, I thought it might be a good idea to (again) look into the definitions.

Six Secrets to Creating a Culture of Innovation

Here the article…. Emerging from a study with several CEOs, the article → Six Secrets to Creating a Culture of Innovation understands the following elements as „innovation“:

  • Meet People’s Needs. ….
  • Teach Creativity Systematically. ….
  • Nurture Passion. ….
  • Make the Work Matter. ….
  • Provide the Time. ….
  • Value Renewal. ….

If you take a closer look to the text, you will see that important elements are missing, because the article just talks about the ideation, and does not even mention the creation and delivery of products.

To see my problem with this definition, take a closer look to Schumpeter’s definition (he  has defined the term Innovation). You will seen that innovation (only) takes place if ideas are implemented in a product, which is used by customers:

„Im engeren Sinne resultieren Innovationen erst dann aus Ideen, wenn diese in neue Produkte, Dienstleistungen oder Verfahren umgesetzt werden (Invention), die tatsächlich erfolgreiche Anwendung finden und den Markt durchdringen (Diffusion).“ – http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innovation

(in short: Innovation = ideas are implemented in a product, which is used by customers)

How to become innovative?

Ingredients

To become an innovative company, you need the following ingredients:

  1. Processes, which successfully deliver ideas
  2. A translation of ideas in products that customers want to buy.
  3. Qualities that allow these products to be adapted by real customers.

To improve the idea creation, the abovementioned tips in the HBR article are perfect.

Characteristics

To translate ideas into products (point 2) you need different characteristics. In the following articles you can read which these are:

„So what does work in the innovation game? No single formula, to be sure. But some recent interviews with executives, consultants and academics can be distilled into three recommendations: think broadly, borrow from the entrepreneurial Silicon Valley model, and pay close attention to customers and to emerging user needs.“ → Innovate, Yes, but Make It Practical

The adaption of products (pt 3) has different parts. In particular in the software space, the functionality and the quality of your products are important.

Examples

Following are examples for customer needs:

  1. Value to the customer – Each feature must deliver  value to the customer, and thus, needs to improve something for him (for this you need to know the requirements).
  2. Quality and stability – Quality is one of the most important parts of any software application, as features can only deliver their functional values, if they can  be installed and used without problem
  3. Usability – To be used, it must be possible for users to understand and use each feature and the entire software needs.

In summary: You need an organization, which is equally capable to creating and delivering good products and services, and which is creative.

Further Information

In my following articles you can find  additional, and related reading:

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No Responses to “Secrets to Creating a Culture of Innovation”

  1. I liked your response to the 6 keys to innovation. In short, I think there are entirely too many people out there talking about innovation and have no idea what they are talking about. I was particularly disappointed in the article that you mentioned. I think the author was an HR person because the concepts that were being discussed were quite shallow.

    You have nailed the issue. If you are talking about innovation, it is appropriate to reference Schumpeter or Drucker’s definitions which refer to the idea, the end user or service as being critical to the whole idea of innovation.

    I have been working in this area for over 25 years and I am getting tired of people with little or no experience trying to play here.

    Keep up your work. You are providing a good service but you were too kind.

    • Thanks for your feedback. In my view it is good to accept that innovation is more than ideation, because then it is not misunderstood as being the task of few thought leaders. And ideas, which do Not fullfill customer needs, are also not relevant, as you point out.