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At the end of the month, you’ll be able to attend our exec programme in Sydney.
It’s two days of intensive involvement in innovation. Block those dates – 1st and 2nd May.
Harvard Business Review published our article on Stealth Innovation, detailing how to make innovation happen under the radar inside a company.
The article is adapted from our book Innovation as Usual. Excerpt of the article below:
The Case For Stealth Innovation
by Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
You have an idea for a daring, innovative project that could have a significant impact on your business. However, you suspect that your idea will meet with internal resistance: The innovation would upend the status quo, and chances are good that other parts of the organization will try to stop it. What’s your next step?
The conventional answer is simple: Get a mandate from the top. As many innovation experts rightly point out, only the most incremental ideas pass through the corporate-approvals gantlet unscathed. The more unusual your idea, the larger the risk that it will fall victim to turf wars, myopic incentive systems, or simple resistance to change. For this reason, innovators are often counseled to go straight to the top, secure backing at the highest possible level, and build a corporate sense of urgency around their ideas.
The “top first” strategy, however, carries its own risks. CEOs of large organizations are constantly barraged with proposals for new, untested projects, and typically, the ideas get a five-minute perusal followed by a “no.” And even if your idea does win support from the C-suite, early exposure is a double-edged sword: It buys you legitimacy and resources, but it also thrusts you squarely into the corporate spotlight—and that can be a dangerous place for young, unproven ideas. Our experience working with innovative managers has revealed an alternative approach: innovating under the radar. […]
On May 4-8, we are running the Creative Cultures program in New York, focused on managing innovation and creativity in organisations.
Crowdsourcing – leveraging the masses to produce innovation – is arguably the biggest current trend in the innovation industry.
The phenomenon started to appear a while back, under the guise of terms like ‘Open Innovation’ and The Cult of the Amateur, and the underlying theoretical reasons why the crowd can sometimes outperform experts was described in James Surowiecki’s readworthy book The Wisdom of Crowds (see my review).
Currently, crowdsourcing is the central idea underlying a bevy of new innovation-oriented books, such as Here Comes Everybody (Clay Shirky), Wikinomics (Don Tapscott) and Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe (who named the phenomenon in a Wired article).
To get a quick feel for what it is all about, check out the two following videos:
Clay Shirky’s TED lecture (20 minutes, but worth it)
It is interesting to see how the field of innovation is itself subject to trends; currently, you would have to be a brave innovation guru to give a lecture without talking about crowdsourcing. And as with any new trend, there is a tendency to herald crowdsourcing as the answer to everything. There is little doubt that it is an important phenomenon, but it is far from the only thing you have to understand in order to master innovation.
Today, in case you didn’t know, is Global Handwashing Day. An initiative launched by UNICEF and a number of other organisations, Global Handwashing Day has a simple goal: to promote handwashing with soap, and thereby prevent germ-transmitted diseases and infections from claiming millions of lives every year.
It is a great initiative, and highly necessary – but judging from history, it also faces very tough odds. We have known about the importance of handwashing since 1847, when the Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis discovered it in a maternity clinic in Vienna. And yet, lack of handwashing remains one of the leading killers in today’s world, not just in developing countries, but also in fully developed ones.
The issue of handwashing illustrates one of the most intransigent problems of innovation: the Practicality Gap. By its very nature, innovation requires people to change their behavior, and this is exceedingly difficult to do. Worse, when the behavior we need to change is a well-established daily habit, it is nearly impossible. This is the Practicality Gap: if a new behavior cannot be effortlessly integrated into your working life, chances are that it won’t get done unless somebody literally forces you to do it.
What, if anything, is needed to bridge the Practicality Gap? Read the rest of this entry »