Interesting article in the latest MITSloan Management Review. It addresses the question:
What conventional wisdom about innovation no longer applies?
It comes up with 5 Takeaways:
- Most innovation efforts fail not because of a lack of bright ideas, but because of a lack of careful and thoughtful follow-up. Smart companies know where the weakest links in their entire innovation value chain are, and they invest time in correcting those weaknesses rather than further reinforcing their strengths
- Online forums are not a panacea for distributed innovation. Online forums are good for capturing and filtering large numbers of existing ideas; in-person forums are good for generating and building on new ideas. Smart companies are selective in their use of online forums for innovation
- External innovation forums have access to a broad range of expertise that makes them effective for solving narrow technological problems; internal innovation forums have less breadth but more understanding of context. Smart companies use their external and internal experts for very different types of problems
- Rewarding people for their innovation efforts misses the point. The process of innovating – of taking the initiative to come up with new solutions – is its own reward. Smart companies emphasize the social and personal drivers of discretionary effort, rather than the material drivers
- Bottom up innovation efforts benefit from high-levels of employee engagement; top down innovation efforts benefit from direct alignment with the company’s goals. Smart companies use both approaches, and are adept at helping bottom-up innovation projects get the sponsorship they need to survive.