Tag Archives: Innovation Culture

Start 2021 with a Free Innovation Audit

Free Innovation AuditNow in Portuguese or English

Are you struggling to identify why your innovation efforts are failing to achieve their desired results?

Identify your areas of opportunity with my FREE 50 question audit in one of two ways:

1. Get immediate feedback with the online version

2. Download the Microsoft Excel worksheet (in English or Portuguese)

  • have people across your organization fill it out and collate your results
  • OR purchase the Innovation Diagnostic Service for my help setting up a study and analyzing results

The innovation audit is most powerful when answers are gathered at multiple levels of the organization across several groups and several sites.

I created my FREE Innovation Audit for buyers of my first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, but it’s now available for global use.

NOTE: If you’d like to translate the audit into another language, please contact me.

In addition to helping you identify areas of potential improvement and the strengths/weaknesses of your innovation culture, it will also help you see your level of innovation maturity.

Innovation Maturity Model

Image adapted from the book Innovation Tournaments by Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich

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5 Keys to Developing an Innovation Culture

5 Keys to Developing an Innovation CultureThe Interview

Listen to the interview on The Everyday Innovator Podcast

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Chad McAllister recently for the Everyday Innovator Podcast on the topic of how an organization can become more innovative. Below you will find Chad’s summary of the Five Keys to Developing an Innovation Culture that I shared with him:

  1. Learn the basics of culture change, such as the 8-step Kotter change model or the Leading Change Formula. Braden is developing a Change Planning Toolkit™ based on his experience and research helping organizations change their culture to support innovation. We’ll discuss this in detail in a future interview when the Toolkit is available.
  2. Build a common language of innovation. Define what innovation means for the organization. Braden’s definition is that innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative. Then build vision, strategy, and goals for innovation. Finally, consider what infrastructure is needed to support innovation.
  3. Create a connected organization. Design the organization to apply the additional talents and skills employees have but are not used in their primary role. This “overhang” of capabilities can be applied for innovation by connecting people with the work that needs to be done. One model, used at Cisco, is to create internal internships to contribute to other projects. Another is Intuit’s innovation vacations (my term) that allows employees to take a scheduled break from the regular work to work on a short-term basis for another project.
  4. Identify those who care about innovation. Recognize that some employees are most comfortable in day-to-day operational roles and maintaining the status quo while others are constantly looking to change things for the better. Those that are seeking to make improvements, especially from the customer’s perspective, should be identified to contribute to product development. This also involves unlocking employees’ initiative, creativity, and passion.
  5. Make innovation a team sport. There is no such thing as a lone innovator. All innovators have a team around them. Braden created The Nine Innovation Roles™ for effective innovation teams: revolutionary, conscript, connector, artist, customer champion, troubleshooter, judge, magic maker, and evangelist. See details in the blog post he wrote for Innovation Excellence.

Listen to the interview on The Everyday Innovator Podcast

Image credit: EverythingZoomer.com

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Are You Lying to Your Customers?

Are You Lying to Your Customers?

It seems like every company these days is trying to claim that they are innovative, trying to claim that they are customer-centric, trying to claim that their employees are important to them. But are they?

Can all this be true?

Or, are all of these companies lying to their customers, lying to their employees, and lying to their shareholders?

Many companies say that they are committed to innovation, but employees know the truth. If employees’ experience around the innovation efforts of the company (and its outcomes) isn’t consistent with the innovation messages being communicated, then not only will innovation participation and outcomes be low, but ongoing trust and loyalty will be further eroded in the organization.

Employees can see the Lucky Charms on your face when you say you’re committed to innovation publicly, but behind the scenes your actions demonstrate that you really are not.

And don’t be fooled, customers will start to see the Lucky Charms show up on your face, no matter how hard you try and convince them that the marshmallow goodness is not there.

If you aren’t going to define what innovation means to your company, if you aren’t going to create a common language of innovation, if you aren’t going to teach people new innovation skills and support innovation at all levels by making limited amounts of time and capital available to push their ideas forward, then don’t say you’re committed to innovation. You’ll tear the organization down instead of building it up.

Lying to CustomersIf customers don’t see you increasing your level of value creation, improving your level of value access, and doing a better job at value translation (see Innovation is All About Value), especially when compared to the competition, then they too will become disillusioned, frustrated, and start to look for other alternative solutions that deliver more value then all of your offerings.

Meanwhile, shareholders behave like customers on steroids. If you are being rewarded with an innovation premium by the market, you can’t be “all hat and no cattle” for very long, meaning you have to deliver compelling inventions on a repeated basis with a strong potential to become the innovations that drive the future growth of the company. This is hard to do once, let alone on a repeated basis. We will likely see Apple be the latest victim in the next twelve months.

Why? Because AAPL is at an all-time high based on the likely high percentage of people that are likely to upgrade from an iPhone 4 or 5s to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. What about after that? Well, the smartphone industry is about to enter the same place that the PC industry hit a few years ago, when replacement cycles began to lengthen, reducing revenues, and forcing prices (and margins) lower. Simultaneously carriers will seek to extract more of the margin from the overall equation, and if Google/Motorola/Lenovo, Nokia and others start to bring $99 smartphones developed for India and other places to the richer economies that will in their next generation likely be “good enough” compared to the high end $699 handsets, more people will choose to wait longer between upgrades, or trade down with their next purchase, much as they did when $400 laptops started to become the rage.

So, what are we to learn from Apple’s pending share price collapse about the middle of next year?

Well, the first thing we will learn is that continuous innovation is hard. Now I’m not saying that Apple is going to go away, HP and Dell haven’t gone away, but Apple’s share price in Q2/Q3 2015 will struggle, they will face employee defections, and it will become more like Dell, HP and Microsoft than Facebook or Google. Not because those companies are any more or less innovative than any of the others, but because the growth paradigms are different and those companies are still in a different place on their growth curves.

We can also learn that continuous innovation requires consistency, commitment, the ability to recognize and prepare for the inevitable peaking of any growth curve, the organizational agility necessary to change as fast as the wants and needs of your customers and your environment, and the ability to understand what your customers will give you permission to do (so you know where to go next when your most profitable growth curve begins to peak).

You should see by now that continuous innovation is about far more than technological innovation, but instead requires not only continuous commitment, but also a continuous willingness and ability to change, and a continuous scanning of your environment using a Global Sensing Network.

Do you have one?

What is yours telling you about your company’s future?

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Are You Investing in an Innovation Culture?

Are You Investing in an Innovation Culture?

Innovation is everywhere.

You can’t go an entire commercial break during the Super Bowl or a State of the Union address (okay, sorry, both American examples) without hearing the word innovation pop up at least once or twice. Companies have added innovation to their company values and mission statements in accelerating numbers. Some organizations have implemented idea management systems. And others are willing to spend large sums of money on design firms and innovation boutique consultancies to get help designing some new widget or service to flog to new or existing customers. Based on all of that you would think that most companies are committed to innovation, right?

If you asked most CEOs “Is your organization committed to innovation?”, do you think you could find a single CEO that would say no?

So, why do think I’m about to make the following statement?

90+% of organizations have no sustained commitment to innovation.

When it comes to fostering continuous innovation, most organizational cultures stink at it.

Let’s look at some data, because anyone who is committed to innovation (and not just creativity) should love data (especially unstructured data from customers):

  • Over the last 50 years the average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 has dropped from 61 years to 18 years (and is forecast to grow even shorter in the future)1
  • In a worldwide survey of 175 companies by Hill & Knowlton (a communications consultancy), executives cited “promoting continuous innovation” as the most difficult goal for their company to get right. “Structurally, many companies just aren’t set up to deliver continuous innovation.”2
  • 84% of more than 2,200 executives agree that their organization’s culture is critical to business success3
  • “96% of respondents say some change is needed to their culture, and 51% think their culture requires a major overhaul.”3

So what does this data tell us?

For one thing, it helps to reinforce the notion that the pace of innovation is increasing.

For another thing, it doesn’t exactly scream that organizations are as committed to building an innovation culture internally as their words externally say about being committed to innovation.

Why is this?

Well, as fellow Innovation Excellence contributor Jeffrey Phillips once said:

“When it comes to innovation, ideas are the easy part. The cultural resistance learned over 30 years of efficiency is the hard part.”

And when you get right down to it, most employees in most organizations are slaves to execution, efficiency, and improvement. And while those things are all important (you can’t have innovation without execution), organizations that fail to strike a balance between improvement/efficiency and innovation/entrepreneurship, are well, doomed to fail.

This increasing pace of innovation along with the lower cost of starting/scaling a business and the always difficult challenge of building a productive culture of continuous innovation, is the reason that the lifespan of organizations is shrinking.

So if it isn’t enough to talk about innovation, or to invest in trying to come up with new products and services, shouldn’t more organizations be also investing to making sure their innovation culture doesn’t, well, stink?

The obvious answer is… (insert yours here)

So, if your innovation culture stinks, I encourage you to come join me at Pipeline 2014 and attend my keynote session on exploring five ways to make it smell better:

“Our Innovation Culture Stinks – Five Ways to Make it Smell Better”

It’s a free virtual event on June 6, 2014.

I look forward to seeing you there!

1. Innosight/Richard N. Foster/Standard & Poor’s
2. Hill & Knowlton Executive Survey
3. Booz & Company Global Culture and Change Management Survey 2013

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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How healthy are your innovation efforts?

How healthy are your innovation efforts?As organizations become more mature in their process excellence efforts, an increasing number of organizations are turning their attention to try and achieve innovation excellence.

So where should your journey of a thousand innovation steps begin?

As your organization begins its innovation journey it is helpful to know where you are starting from in terms of your innovation maturity level and where the strengths and weaknesses of your innovation culture lie.

In my popular book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, that many organizations are buying in bulk and using to help establish their organization’s common language of innovation, I promised to share my 50 question innovation audit on this web site, and so here it is.

The audit is designed to examine many different areas of your innovation culture and help you identify both what your level of innovation maturity is, but also the areas where you have a strong base to build from and where you need to invest more effort.

Innovation Maturity Model

To properly use my innovation audit, you should have large sections of your employee population fill out the survey (both in management and operational roles) across several different business specialties and office locations. The data can then be looked at by department, business specialty, office location and other groupings that make sense to identify both commonalities and differences.

If you would like assistance interpreting the results, please contact me to see the different options for engaging my services. Many companies combine this with an innovation speaker engagement or some innovation training for their employees.

I hope you find this innovation audit of use, and I thank you for buying the book (or considering doing it now)!

Download my FREE innovation audit

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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