Innovation as Usual: How to Help Your People Bring Great Ideas to Life
Turn team members into innovators
Most organizations approach innovation as if it were a sideline activity. Every so often employees are sent to Brainstorm Island”: an off-site replete with trendy lectures, creative workshops, and overenthusiastic facilitators. But once they return, it’s back to business as usual.
Innovation experts Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg suggest a better approach. They recommend that leaders at all levels become innovation architects,” creating an ecosystem in which people engage in key innovation behaviors as part of their daily work.
In short, this book is about getting to a state of innovation as usual,” where regular employees in jobs like finance, marketing, sales, or operations make innovation happen in a way that’s both systemic and sustainable.
Instead of organizing brainstorming sessions, idea jams, and off-sites that rarely result in success, leaders should guide their people in what the authors call the 5 + 1 keystone behaviors” of innovation: focus, connect, tweak, select, stealthstorm, (and the + 1) persist:
Focus beats freedom: Direct people to look only for ideas that matter to the business
Insight comes from the outside: Urge people to connect to new worlds
First ideas are flawed: Challenge people to tweak and reframe their initial ideas
Most ideas are bad ideas: Guide people to select the best ideas and discard the rest
Stealthstorming rules: Help people navigate the politics of innovation
Creativity is a choice: Motivate everyone to persist in the five keystone behaviors
Using examples from a wide range of companies such as Pfizer, Index Ventures, Lonza, Go Travel, Prehype, DSM, and others, Innovation as Usual lights the way toward embedding creativity in the DNA of the workplace.
So cancel that off-site. Instead, read Innovation as Usual and put innovation at the core of your business.
Paddy Miller is a professor at IESE Business School in Barcelona. He has worked with senior executives in organizations such as Nike, Lufthansa, Henkel, Bayer, L’Oréal, Boeing, Citi, and the World Bank, and has led courses at MIT, CEIBS, Harvard, and Darden. Miller is the author of Mission Critical Leadership, and his work on global teams was awarded by the Academy of Management.
Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg is a partner at The Innovation Architects, a management consulting firm in New York City. He is a frequent speaker at corporate events and has worked with managers in nearly all parts of the globe, including China, India, Russia, Singapore, Britain, France, the United States, and his native country, Denmark. He has founded two start-ups and serves as an adviser to BBC Worldwide Labs.