Innovation

by Cathy Dunn and Phil Allcock

Innovation isn’t...

Below are some of the false ideas that prevent people from becoming innovative. Innovation isn’t...

...just something geniuses do

When you read the examples on the previous page, you might have thought that, while the ideas were clever and interesting, they were probably all dreamed up by people in lab coats or creative geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, not people like you. The reality, however, is that in all of these cases someone did a number of very repeatable things that we can all learn to do. For example, James Dyson paid enough attention to the way things worked to notice how inefficient his Hoover was and how efficient the saw mill air cleaning equipment was and put the two things together.

...just about having bright ideas

You may still think that innovation is just about having clever ideas. It isn’t. The key difference between innovation and creativity – the bright ideas bit – is that innovation turns ideas into products, services or processes that really make a positive difference to the way your organisation does business. That’s why taking a great idea that you discover when you’re out shopping, at the cinema or talking with friends in the pub and applying it to the work that you do is just as valid a piece of innovation as having the idea yourself. It’s the outcome that’s important, not whose idea it was. On that note, innovation isn’t...

...just about you

You may think that you’re not the kind of person who has lots of ideas, or even spots them when they’re out and about. This doesn’t stop you being a great leader of innovation. It’s likely that you have people working for you or colleagues or even bosses, who have great ideas, but don’t share them or follow them through. This may be because they lack confidence, structure, follow through or something else. Whatever the reason, your contribution, as a leader of innovation, can be to draw out and listen to their ideas and then help shape them so that they can be turned into something valuable. Actually, enabling other people’s innovation is possibly a more productive contribution than having and implementing the ideas yourself. By doing this you can be responsible for many more ideas being turned into something useful than you could ever come up with and implement yourself.

...and finally

Make sure that you’re not a blockage to innovation. If your response to ideas is always to forensically dissect them and to point out the reasons why they won’t work, people may keep their valuable ideas to themselves. That’s not to say that you should take every idea at face value; not every one is worth exploring, obviously. Just be careful how you receive ideas and explore them with people. Just be aware that what you might think of as a logical examination of the pros and cons of an idea can feel like a personal attack to the person whose idea it is.

The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success: concentration, discrimination, organisation, innovation and communication.

Michael E Gerber