In large & fragmented orgs how can you embed an innovation culture?

Recently the question went out: In large organisations (i.e., with more than 10,000 employees working in a wide range of departments and functions) how can you truly embed an innovation culture?

The best answer I read was by Richard Campbell (Business Innovation Consultant at Jekkub Design Management, London, United Kingdom). (My responses to his ideas are in brown.) He said, “There are as many authorities on innovation as there are ways to foster such cultures. Which of these that will work for your company depends on the existing culture…” This is absolutely true. Because innovation must be useful to the company, it must be ‘customized’ (for lack of a better word) to that culture. To miss out on this important concept means the solution will probably not stick.  Then he said, “who is the innovation champion, how engaged are your staff currently (have they seen lots of pointless change recently)…” This I partially agree with. People are willing to engage if they feel their opinions are heard and if the new idea fits with their understanding of the situation. The reason pointless change is pointless is because it fights the existing culture.  (All of what Richard said is powerful, but I’m just going to focus on this starting idea.) When you understand your company’s culture, you will understand why the company is stagnating in certain areas, which will be the areas that need innovation and will give the best ROI.
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Incremental versus Radical Innovation (disruptive innovation, too)

Audio Clip: Radical vs Incremental Innovation

Avatar Picture of DaynaRecently someone asked me, “Can you give me an example of radical versus incremental innovation – and throw in an example of distruptive innovation, too.” This is what I said:

My great grandmother (Nana) lived to be 99 years old. We asked her what was the most amazing technology she ever saw, “Was it when man first walked on the moon?”

“No,” she said; “what moved my heart and shocked my mind was at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. I saw a man ascend in a hot air balloon. That was the first time in my life I realized man would fly. Everything from that moment on was an obvious next step.”
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Pioneer Thinking versus Entitlement

Avatar Picture of DaynaPioneer Thinking (.wmv)

I know I often write about psychological inertia (PI) and the problems it creates, but today I want to talk about how PI can be beneficial in some cases and detrimental in other cases.  As Americans, we used to embrace some PI that was great (the pioneering spirit) and I fear we are in danger of losing it – replacing it – overwriting it with something new (a system of entitlement).

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