in Innovation

The four drivers of innovation

20070116innovation.jpgI have a found a great article on the Gallup Management Journal written by Shelley Mika. It a great article that I strongly suggest you to read if you are into innovation.

You can read the article by pointing your web browser here.

There are four conditions that have to be satisfied to create innovation.

Finding and fostering talents

The first interesting point here is that according to Jim Clifton, Gallup chairman and CEO, there are four types of people that drives innovation:

  • inventors
  • entrepreneurs
  • extreme individual achievers
  • super mentors

I would, personally, add one category to this list. The liaison officer. This guy may be part of team or one of the people in the four categories may act as a liaison officer. I have seen the every single guy in the four categories speaks a different language and you really need someone that is able to translate messages for other people in the innovation team. It’s just like building a common ground for all the different actors on the stage.
Every single person involved in the innovation process should be a talented person and here is why it’s important to hire talented people for your organization. I agree on this.

After you have these guys on board you need to create the best environment to let their talent grow, evolve and turn into innovation.

That’s perfectly true.

I would add a note on that. You should try to find a way to keep these guys on board. This does not only mean to provide them with the best environment but, also, put in place some way to make these guy stay with you in the long term. They have to be happy or, just to make a citation, they have to “Stay hungry, stay foolish” [Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. CEO, Stanford, June 2005, link]
Manager mattersThis is another key factor. Managers have to turn innovation in action. They have to make things happen. This is why you want manager that stand in the talented group of people.In my experience I have seen too many often innovation ideas being dropped because of bad managers, lack of initiative or support.

I would say that a good, talented manager is the perfect guy to act as a liaison officer. In the group and towards senior management.

Relationship matters too

This is something that managers really know very well, probably too much in some occasion.

The risk is that relationship may turn up in politics and that is a risk that you should not want to take if you are supposed to lead an innovation team.

Relationship may be interpreted as internal or external. Everybody involved in innovation knows very well that at the end of chain there is some kind of customer, whatever your field in innovation is. As I have written in other posts on this blog customer may be a great source of innovation. I would add customers as the fifth category of people that drives innovation.

In this particular case I am using the word customer in its wider significance. Everybody, from the guy who buys your product or service, the dean of your university, or simply another department may be your customer.
Treating relationship as a value can really boost the innovation process and may, sometimes, provide you with reality checks that are really valuable.

Keeping the right leaders

This is critical but, as I wrote above, it is critical to keep all the talented people in the team. Probably the leader may have the biggest chance to give directions to the team he manages and this is why you may want to keep him on board.

Why do I blog this? Well, this is all what innovation is about.

The photo is from netsrot Flickr photostream.

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