Definition: Stealthstorming (STELTH-ˈsto:rming) 1. verb: to surreptitiously attack or assault  2. noun: covert decisions and actions in an organization aimed at ensuring the implementation of an innovation.

by Paddy Miller, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg and Azra Brankovic

Once the challenge for management was to get employees “innovating,” “thinking creatively” and “brainstorming.” Now reality has bitten and the innovation space is less idealistic and more Machiavellian. For those who know where to look, there is no shortage of ideas coming out of organizations. The problem lies in making these ideas gain traction in a company where innovation – despite what the mission statement may proclaim – is in reality a very low priority. Signs include:

  • Bottom-up initiatives somehow never make it very far – key decisionmakers don’t ‘get it’ or aren’t willing to put money on the table
  • Byzantine corporate politics suck the life out of innovators, eventually making them quit the firm
  • ‘Creative’ is not a word you’d want people to call you – as one manager put it, “in my company, being called creative is the kiss of death for your career.”

How do managers make innovation happen in such an environment?

The answer is Stealthstorming.

Stealthstorming is the way to make it happen when the odds are against you.

It is guerilla warfare, waged with ideas.

It is a radical thinker dressed in a suit and a tie.

It is when you abandon all the usual trappings of creativity – multi-colored hats, flamboyant workshops, cheesy change management techniques – and sneak under the corporate defenses to make it happen.

Stealthstorming is what Jordan Cohen did when he, as a regular manager, built the highly innovative service called pfizerWorks and created his dream job.

Want to know more? Come join our intensive course at IESE Business School in New York on May 5-6, where we have sessions on StealthStorming, Innovation Strategy, pfizerWorks, Reframing, and much more.

The Innovation Architect: Creating breakthrough companies

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