Friday, September 17, 2010

Practice Innovation...

...whenever you can.

It's time to wrap up "Innovation Week," a look at some of the best innovation practices of IDEO, the award-winning, celebrated design firm. Tom Kelly, general manager of IDEO, has captured the essence of what the firm is all about in his book "The Art of Innovation." Even though it's been around for almost 10 years, I find myself coming back to it time and again to get a refresher on this thing called "innovation."

Kelley closes out his book with a simple but powerful list of innovation practice tips that IDEO has refined over the years. His advice is to "try jotting these down in your own words and posting them around your workplace. Above all, practice them whenever you can." Did you get that?

Innovation has to be practiced to be effective.

It's not a one time thing.

It's not something just for the management team.

It's not optional for your organization.

Here are Kelley's "innovation practice tips."
  • Watch customers - and non customers - especially enthusiasts (note to church leaders: yes, you have customers)
  • Play around with your physical workplace in a way that sends positive "body language" to employees and guests
  • Think "verbs," not "nouns," in your service offerings so that you create wonderful experiences for everyone who comes into contact with your organization or brand
  • Break rules and "fail forward" so that change is part of the culture, and little setbacks are expected (John Maxwell is smiling!)
  • Stay human, scaling your organizational environment so that there's room for hot groups to emerge and thrive
  • Build bridges from one department to another, from your organization to your prospective customers, and ultimately from the present to the future
Try it yourself. Innovation isn't about perfection. Get out of your cube/office/cave and observe your "market," your customers, and your services. Brainstorm like crazy and prototype in bursts. Assemble your own version of "The A Team," then turn them loose on your problem.

Prepare to be amazed.

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