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Digital Transformation

Myths of Innovation

In the winter issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, Julian Birkinshaw, Cyril Bouquet and J.-L. Barsoux wrote  a great article on the 5 Myths of Innovation.  Innovation, collaboration and Web 2.0 are getting more traction these days and they hit some nice points based on research of leading company over many years.  Many of these I see as common knowledge but it really gets back to either creating a culture or engaging an already existing innovative workforce.

Tools alone won’t drive innovation, usually. Most knowledge workers have to be taught (or re-taught) how to innovate.  Most people have ideas, good or bad, and they usually like sharing them.  Most people like to have their name out there, get some recogintion – even at the simplest level. Those who are in generation Y or are a millennial who are recently in or entering the workforce are expecting this source for sharing and recognition.  Those ‘older’ workers have historically received this attention or feedback in annual reviews – no always so today.  Today, organizations are more transparent and it easier to start a blog, wiki, forum than it ever has.  Companies are realizing that if they don’t have these tools these maverick workers will find a work around, in fact studies show that most do (see right).  But there are myths that still reside and The Review does a nice job detailing them as well providing some quick links to innovation glossaries, details on the research itself and more.

Here are a list of the 5 myths: 

  • Myth # 1. The Eureka Moment

We all have these moments, but they shouldn’t be counted on for innovation and collaboration.

  • Myth # 2. Build It and They Will Come

Quite obvious and a driving point to having a roadmap that details a nicely thought out plan.

  • Myth # 3. Open Innovation Is the Future

Open is great, but not always best.  You have to have a plan on when to have open and concentrated internal efforts for innovation.

  • Myth # 4. Pay Is Paramount

Gets to my point that most people are very OK with just having a place to share ideas and allowing peers to see and comment (even vote!).  We all like that comment from a peer: “Joe, that idea you have is great.”  That is worth more than anything money can buy.

  • Myth # 5. Bottom-Up Innovation Is Best

Bottom up is going to happen but you need to have a transparent bi-directional innovation flow.  There are no sacred cows.





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Jonathan Distad

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