No single innovation tool or method will deliver consistent, profitable breakthroughs, and neither will a hodgepodge of misaligned or poorly integrated practices. It takes a systematic approach to build a systemic capability—whether that is Amazon’s logistics prowess or the near-flawless service you receive as a guest at a Four Seasons hotel. So it is with innovation. Skills, tools, metrics, processes, platforms, incentives, roles, and values all have to come together in one supercharged, all-wheel-drive, race-winning innovation machine.
So what are the parts of the innovation engine that most often get left out? Here’s our list of the top five:
When software developers write code, they often use tools called IDEs, integrated development environments, that provide contextual information needed to manage the complexity of modern software. What would such a workspace look like, if it were designed for journalism?
Researchers have identified this type of curve in a wide range of creative professions, though the peak age varies by activity. On its face, this data suggests that by the time most CEOs make it to the corner office, their most creative, innovative years are behind them.
If the solution and the destination are determined up front, it leaves little if any room for creativity and innovation…
We live and work in accountability-driven systems. And for that reason, visions and endpoints proliferate our institutions and organizations. Our destinations have often been determined before we ever begin. Not that being outcome-driven is negative…but very often, the path to get to those outcomes has already been mapped out with excruciating detail before ever beginning the journey.
What we fail to realize, is that authentic creativity and true innovation seldom, if ever, occur in a linear fashion.
In my first article in this series, I talked about the continued, and often misplaced, focus of corporate innovation leaders on developing disruptive innovation efforts. My basic argument within the article was the while “Big I” innovation can be a valid driver of growth. However, few companies are in the right position or have laid the appropriate groundwork to support and develop new, groundbreaking ideas, especially in the context of the existing organizational culture. In this article I want to talk about the value of incremental innovation and why companies should often focus on this, rather than driving as hard as they can to come up with the next breakthrough product or service. Incremental improvements aren’t always cool, but over time they can drive significant business results.
Since innovation is a complex, company-wide endeavor, it requires a set of crosscutting practices and processes to structure, organize, and encourage it. Taken together, the essentials described in this article constitute just such an operating system, as seen in Exhibit 2. These often overlapping, iterative, and nonsequential practices resist systematic categorization but can nonetheless be thought of in two groups. The first four, which are strategic and creative in nature, help set and prioritize the terms and conditions under which innovation is more likely to thrive. The next four essentials deal with how to deliver and organize for innovation repeatedly over time and with enough value to contribute meaningfully to overall performance.
What’s more critical to producing a breakthrough innovation – finding creative people or finding creative ideas? This is a question Pixar head Ed Catmull has asked a great many people, and he says they tend to be pretty much split on it 50/50.
The new film 'Interstellar' is being hailed for helping to bring theoretical physics into the mainstream. But, it also communicates unexpected lessons about innovation that are vitally important to executives, entrepreneurs, scientists and others.
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