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Innovation is for everyone

by John Drummond

My son Andrew and I came across this innovator on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The really bad advice he gave me was that if I had a nice car, I should cut it in half, use the front seats indoors and the back seats as an outdoor couch in the garden.

Innovation is not a cult with a small number of high priests. Everyone is creative. There are over nine million photographs and videos posted on Instagram every day. Around 500 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The world’s leading business innovators understand this and believe that all employees are imaginative and innovative.

So, how do you create a culture of innovation within an organisation where everyone is involved? What if you looked at innovation through a behavioural lens and asked what innovators think, feel, believe and do? That would give you a model to change mindsets and skillsets.

This the topic of our new report ‘Innovation is for Everyone’, due to be launched in September 2021. Here are three tips as a preview of the report.

First, embrace experimentation…

In the town of Helsingborg in Sweden is The Museum of Failure, curated by psychologist Samuel West. Exhibits include the spray-on condom, adult food in baby-food jars, Colgate’s beef lasagne, Google Glass, New Coke, the Sinclair C5, the Sony Minidisc, a digital camera from Kodak, who, focusing on digital far too late, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Another way of looking at the Museum of Failure is as a celebration of innovation. As the Museum says on its home page: “Innovation and progress require an acceptance of failure.” Everyone who has ever taken a photograph knows, for every great picture, dozens are discarded.

Second, ask great questions…

Audacious questions precede audacious answers. “Questions have a curious power to unlock new insights and positive behaviour change in every part of our lives,” says Hal Gregersen, director of MIT’s Leadership Centre. Good questions, he writes, feel surprising and generate new thinking. They invite people down a fresh rabbit hole with the promise of solutions to a problem they care about. Here’s what innovators say about the power of questions:

  • “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask.” Albert Einstein

  • “Great questions are a much better indicator of future success than great answers.” Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates

  • “A lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part.” Elon Musk

Third tip?

Register your interest in receiving a copy of the new Innovation is for Everyone report, and attend its launch, by contacting Elaine at elaine.smith@corporateculture.co.uk

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