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TOP5 rules to unleash your creativity

Creativity-top5 rules

The first few years after I decided to take my creative writing seriously, I couldn’t overcome the nagging feeling that my fiction was simply a glorified hobby–like knitting or fishing. Plenty of people helped reinforce that. I’d be at a party filled with people who worked sensible office jobs when someone would find out I was writing a novel and tell me they’d been meaning to take up the hobby themselves if only they had more time.

But it’s hard to justify carving out time every day in your busy schedule for “just a hobby.” Music wasn’t just a hobby for Lou Reed. Inventing wasn’t just a hobby for Steve Jobs. They dedicated their best work to their creative endeavors. Lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it.

Creative work is hard. It’s painful. It takes a whole lot of time. And if you don’t consciously set aside that time, it won’t happen.

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1. Put creative work first.

Setting aside time every day to do creative work keeps your momentum going.

2. Your inbox can wait. Seriously, it can.

Most of us compulsively check email without stopping to think about it. Why? The same reason it’s hard to resist piling your plate high with bad-for-you foods at a buffet.

3. Recognize your body’s limits.

Our bodies follow ultradian rhythms, cycles that last around 90 minutes–at which point most people max out their capacity to work at their optimal leve

4. Set boundaries and dive deep within them.

Try making rules for yourself and see what happens. George Harrison, lead guitarist of the Beatles, told himself one day that he would pick up a book at random, open it and write a song about whatever words he read first.

5. Start today.

Striving for perfection in everything you do can be so daunting it keeps you from getting started in the first place.

Managing innovation? First freeing creativity

Managing Innovation Freeing Creativity

Innovation & creativity: 2 things different

Innovation and creativity are not the same thing. This might not come as a big revelation, but too often companies treat the two as if they’re one and the same. Here’s a simple way to tell the difference: If you can measure it, it’s innovation. This week’s lead Searchlight item talks about the metrics you can use for managing innovation, starting with the importance of using a common language when crafting ideas into innovations.

Common language is a key first step, author Drew Marshall says, because your employees who have the biggest ideas might not technically be your innovators. They might have the ideas but not know what to do with them. Top companies like Google famously set aside time for employees to explore innovation — but what they’re really encouraging, Marshall contends, is that necessary first step — some free time for minds to wander.

Creativity first!

Creativity precedes innovation. Last summer at the Gartner Inc. Catalyst conference in San Diego, I joined a packed hall of IT leaders who sat in rapt attention during a keynote address from famed graffiti artist (and former entrepreneur) Erik Wahl. Bounding around the stage and through the audience, he encouraged people to remember and embrace the creative freedom of their youth, pausing only to paint perfect pieces of pop art before their eyes.

The audience exploded into a standing ovation, which to me translated as “Yes! Get me a canvas!” There was definitely a buzz, and maybe that buzz carried people through the day. Maybe it was just the pep talk some of them needed to get their creative juices flowing again. Here’s hoping that back home, those big ideas were met with the guidance needed to transform them into real-life innovations.

Check out SearchCIO’s own coverage of these topics Boston CIO uniting citizens and the city through gamification CIO advises focus on making mobile applications ‘killer apps’ Cracking the big data analysis code Before you run out and buy a set of oil paints, check out the rest of this week’s roundup which includes a look at perhaps the most critical battle in the data wars — the next killer mobile app, why Facebook is so last year and more. Your employees are simply endless founts of creativity, but the world will never know it unless you know about managing innovation. Data doesn’t get much bigger than this. Forget about companies owning information that helps them target you as a consumer; next week the Supreme Court will consider whether companies can own and patent human genes.

Teenagers sick of something? Can’t be! It’s not surprising that teens are tiring of Facebook; but for the sake of knowing your future customers and employees, it’s useful to note that a new study shows they’re drifting from traditional social networking altogether. Once just considered a cheap alternative to texting, messaging may be emerging as “the killer app in mobile.” It’s those darn teenagers again. (This may shed some light on Facebook Home.)

Don’t view these findings about consumer shopping preferences as an excuse to keep your mobile e-commerce app on the back burner. Read the article, take a deep breath and get back to work! For once when the government is accused of playing games, it can take pride in the barb — it’s using gamification to improve the nation.

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6 Tips For Building Innovation Into Your Company

Word Ball - Innovate

Innovation is a big corporate buzzword, and it’s one of the hottest topics on this blog. That’s because it’s one of the biggest mysteries to business leaders. A new study from Accenture, “Why Low Risk Innovation Is Costly,” revealed that fewer than one in five chief executives believes their company’s strategic investments in innovation are paying off. Because of the high percentage of failure, nearly half of the executives surveyed said their companies were less likely to risk implementing breakthrough ideas.

Innovation only happens in the right environment, one where everyone is not only allowed to innovate, but they are actively encouraged to speak up and bring new ideas to the table. This may sound like common sense, but it is far from common practice. How do you create an innovative environment?

  1. Innovation only comes by invitation. Invite people to bring forth their new ideas. True innovation takes place when people are free to raise ideas, take ownership of them, and then implement them. If people are required to ask permission for every step they take, they will stop asking permission.
  2. Innovation is not a solo sport, it requires a group of players with skills specific to the effort. Many companies appoint an innovation department or hire a chief innovation officer, which can make innovation just another stovepipe in the organization. The message this sends to your organization is that innovation is “their job” and “not mine” – siloed off. While an idea may come from one individual, it’s the cross-functional creativity, trust, and collaboration that bring innovation to life.
  3. Encourage everyone to put their ideas to test fast, fail fast, and then reiterate. If people wait for perfection before they put the idea to work, the effort will lose steam before it ever gets off the ground.
  4. Value the lessons taken from failure as much as your successes, and apply those lessons toward each new attempt. This makes it safe for everyone to innovate. The idea is not to encourage failure but to foster innovation that leads to winning success as rapidly as possible.
  5. Ensure this behavior gets modeled at every level, from the very top to individual contributor. That means the senior leaders must be actively involved, not just mandating the change.
  6. Resist the desire to project manage your way to innovation. It cannot be generated by focusing solely on budgets, resources, and timelines. If you try, you can guarantee your innovation investment will be wasted.

Obama Wants to Upgrade 99% of Students to High-Speed Internet by 2018

obama HIGH SPEED

Capacity to communicate quicker is key.
United States is on the right way to produce the best innovative student.

TECH in AMERICA (TiA)

Obama-Connected-Initiative[1]by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai (courtesy mashable)

President Barack Obama thinks American students aren’t connected enough, and that access to faster Internet connections and technologies is crucial in today’s schools. That’s why he wants to make sure that 99% of students have high-speed broadband access within the next five years.

“We are living in a digital age, and to help our students get ahead, we must make sure they have access to cutting-edge technology,” Obama said in a statement published by the White House.

Obama will announce the new initiative, ConnectED, on Thursday during a speech at a high-tech middle school in Mooresville, N.C.

The initiative calls on the Federal Communications Commission to provide virtually all American students with high-speed broadband and wireless access in their schools and libraries by 2018. The initiative should also give students and teachers the tools needed to take advantage of high-speed Internet access.

“Basic Internet access is no…

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Creating an Innovative Organization

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Helping Frontline Workers Become Innovative

Innovative organizations do not miraculously come into existence. Rather, they are created by leaders who establish the conditions necessary to bring out the innovative ideas within everyone.

How can organizational leaders create these conditions? In particular, how can they create conditions that will encourage frontline workers to be innovative? This requires, I believe, that leaders fulfill two major conditions. They must convince frontline workers that the leadership supports the line; and, they must ensure that frontline workers understand the big picture.

In every effective organization, there is some kind of implicit contract between the leadership and the line. The line will produce what the leadership wants; in turn, the leadership produces what the line wants. The organization’s leadership wants to make this message as explicit as possible: “You produce for us, and we’ll produce for you”.

This implicit contract is needed by any organization that seeks to become innovative. Frontline workers will not help an organization’s leadership do a better job at achieving its mission unless they believe these leaders will help them.

Frontline workers: leadership on their side

But what should those frontline workers who have decided that being innovative is good for the organization attempt to accomplish? In what direction should they attempt to innovate? What are the constraints? How will an innovation fit within other efforts being made throughout the agency? What is the purpose of the agency and how will any specific innovation help to achieve that purpose? To be effective as innovators, frontline workers must understand what the organization is trying to accomplish, why it is trying to accomplish that, and how it might achieve that goal.

Frontline workers understand the big picture

Before frontline workers are going to become innovative, they have to believe that the organization’s leadership supports them, and they have to understand the big picture.

Be immediately responsive

When an executive first asks frontline workers or middle managers what should be done to improve the organization’s effectiveness, the responses will inevitably focus on working conditions. People will complain about the lack of a soft drink machine, the broken toilet, or the photocopier that barely reproduces the original. Obviously, workers will be more productive if they have the right tool.

The quicker that top management produces the new copier, the better its credibility will be.

In fact, before asking frontline workers what should be done to improve the organization, its leaders ought to know the answer they will hear. Before top management meets with the workers, leaders ought to find out what kind of improvements the workers will request. Before the meeting, they ought to check out exactly what they will have to do to produce the improvement and how long it will take. Then, when confronted with the request, they can commit to making the improvement and also state clearly whether the improvement will be completed in a day, a week, a month, or a year.

To identify the needs of frontline workers, the agency’s leadership ought to ask the union. In fact, in a unionized agency, if the organization’s leaders go straight to their frontline workers, the union will view this as a direct threat, an effort to undermine its role.

Support mistakes

Innovative organizations make mistakes, lots of mistakes. And how the organization treats these mistakes and those who make them sends important signals throughout the organization. If the mistaken innovators are punished in any way, even if they are just perceived to be punished, frontline workers will relearn a basic lesson of bureaucratic life: It does not pay to experiment with new ideas.

Unfortunately, a lot of people make their living catching mistaken innovations. These mistake catchers get their jollies and their professional recognition from uncovering and exposing mistakes. The moral fervor with which they take on this assignment combined with the well-known and easily implemented strategy for publicizing any mistake creates the

If frontline workers learn that no mistake, even an honest mistake, goes unpunished, they will certainly be reluctant to be innovative. Consequently, leaders who wish to create an innovative organization have to figure out ways to prevent those who make mistakes from being punished.

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TOP6 ideas to initiate a Creative Climate

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Are you thinking about ways to transform your workplace into an environment more conducive to innovation? This article takes a closer look at six components of creative climates that have shown to be significant at facilitating creativity according to new research.

What is a creative climate?

A climate can be seen as various aspects of the psychological atmosphere in a team and the surrounding organizational environment. The climate often conveys expectations about which behaviors and attitudes that are acceptable. In the creativity research field there has been many attempts to conceptualize the idea of a ‘creative’ climate – i.e. such a climate that facilitates outcomes that are creative.

This article highlights six components of a creative climate that have been shown to be among the most salient in predicting creative and innovative outcomes.

1. Challenge

Complex, challenging and interesting tasks and goals spur intrinsic motivation, which is a critical component of creativity. Yet here also lies an important caveat. Tasks and goals should not be too overwhelming because then the challenge risk becoming an obstacle – effectively stifling motivation.

2. Intellectual debate

When working with complex and challenging tasks, problems often surface. The nature of these problems is that they are often novel to the people that encounters them and complex in that they can be solved in different ways. To ensure that a project can move forward, many viewpoints must be heard and people must feel secure enough so that they put forward their best ideas. In organizations where there is no debate people tend to stick to “tried and true” ways of doing things – applying old solutions to new problems.

3. Flexibility and risk taking

A basic reality of creative endeavors is that they are inherently uncertain. Often, there is no valid information that ensures that an idea or an innovation is guaranteed to succeed. Even a creative idea itself may not be practical enough to be realized into a new product, service or process improvement. Thus, risk is inherently built into innovation. Research shows that tolerating this risk, not minimizing it, is the best strategy. Thus, it is crucial that organizations accept and allow risk, encourage experimentation and failure.

4. Top management support

Another salient component of a creative climate is the perception of support from top management. This support entails both espoused support; when top management communicate norms that encourage innovation, risk taking and experimentation, and enacted support. This latter form of support is perhaps the most important, since it is the amount of resources such as money, time and facilities that top management is prepared to commit to innovation. If resources are not available, employees will see through the rhetoric of encouragement, effectively undermining these efforts.

5. Positive supervisor relations

Support for new ideas by the supervisor or team leader is critical for the further development and implementation of these ideas. Especially supportive leaders listen and give feedback to ideas, and tolerate a certain degree of experimentation. Furthermore, leaders should publicly recognize and reward creative efforts.

6. Positive interpersonal exchange

The last salient component of creative climates is joy. When team members experience a sense of “togetherness” that comes with a common goal, team members will want to cooperate efficiently for their mutual benefit. This increases both team performance as well as individual performance. With increased togetherness communication is facilitated, which will allow different perspectives and keep conflict away.

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Digital Promise: accelerating innovation in U.S. education

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The U.S. president message

President Barack Obama said “Digital Promise is a unique partnership that will bring everyone together – educators, entrepreneurs, and researchers – to use technology to help students learn and teachers teach. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to education, but technology can be a powerful tool, and Digital Promise will help us make the most of it.”

Their mission

Digital Promise is a nonprofit corporation authorized by Congress “to support a comprehensive research and development program to harness the increasing capacity of advanced information and digital technologies to improve all levels of learning and education, formal and informal, in order to provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy.”

Their history

In 2008, Digital Promise was formally authorized as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. With an initial Board of Directors recommended in part by Members of Congress and appointed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Digital Promise was formally launched by President Barack Obama in September 2011 with startup support from the U.S. Department of Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Digital Promise League

The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools is a unique national coalition of 32 school districts in 21 states that serve more than 2.7 million students. Through partnerships with start-ups, research institutions, and one another, League districts are committing to demonstrate, evaluate, and scale up innovations that deliver better results for students.

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Creativity: to ask the right questions

This post about creativity, how to organize brainstorming and how to ask questions for catalyzing creativity is absolutely right. To be read urgently.

Spark Insights - Strategy facilitator, ideation, and brainstorming

The power of asking the right questions

One of the most powerful ways of getting the best ideas from brainstorming  and sparking creativity is to start with the right question.

The opposite is also true – you can spin your wheels, and kill ideation by asking the wrong question.

Too often, brainstorming meetings get stuck in a rut. They either cycling over the same ideas, go off on a tangent that ends up miles from your business, or is simply uninspired and flat. Most often, it’s because we started with the wrong question – one that is either closed-ended, suggests a solution, or is too wide open.

A common myth about creativity

One of the most persistent fallacies of creativity is that to be creative, we need to remove the boundaries and that brainstorming needs to be wide-open. The reality is that we need some boundaries and direction to have…

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Is Innovation overrated?

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Innovation over-highlighted in companies?

On the web, we can read articles saying that companies & people overrated Innovation. Arguments are clear: consumers that would like some products do not especially want innovative products. These consumers need very good products, with the right price – depending on level of life of consumers & at the right moment – accessible during the seasons, the locations, the time and so on… It seems to be absolutely true, isn’t it?

We are not buying a car because there is tablet inside but because the design of the car is what’s we expected, the fiability and global quality is very good and the car bought is in relation with what’s we would like to do with it: driving in cities, driving in the nature or allowing us to drive with 4 children.

Does it means that cars produced do not require important innovations to build the best car for the smallest price?

What is innovation?

Wikipedia answers to this question: “Innovation is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.”

It means that reducing company’s innovation to innovative products is really viewing it as a small piece of what can be innovation. Innovation concept is larger.

Culture of innovation

The standard structures of the company are managing the recurrent operations. We do not have to reduce the importance of these structures: financial results made with them, allow companies to have an innovation structure.

But innovation cannot be processed as in standard structures: there is no recurrent action in its management. Innovation needs its own organization with dedicated managers and experts. Innovation does not have to be separated from the rest of the company: people in the standard structure needs to participate to innovations.

Innovation structures need their own budget with dedicated KPIs, radically different from other budgets. Another key point is the sponsorship. It must clearly be sponsored by executive board members. Steering committees, less structured, must be put in place.

At the end, all collaborators of the company, employees, directors, board members and CEO must contribute to innovation process. Putting a culture of innovation is a key element in a company.

Is Innovation really overrated?

For a company, innovation is larger than having innovative products. Having a process reducing time to proceed operations, having new product with new services more adapted to the market or using new technologies for selling or for having better products is innovation!

I have already heard that coming back to the root of project management is probably more important than having innovation focus. I have to say that there is no link between project management and innovation. Both are required in different steps in any company.

Since 5 years, innovation is entered in all companies, the small ones as the big ones, companies from every countries and from all sectors. It is not a fashion way that will disappear within 5 years. Innovation is a key element that companies have right now to integrate in their strategy for a long time.

Related articles

1. http://blogs.hbr.org/berkun/2008/07/why-innovation-is-overrated.html
2. http://www.reignofgaming.net/blogs/a-different-view/emeraldw/24012-is-innovation-overrated?page=5#c31
3. http://scottberkun.com/2008/is-innovation-overrated/
4. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/is-innovations-importance-overrated/11200
5. http://kidmin360.com/innovation-is-overrated/

TOP20 to Boost Your Creativity

MindMap

Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you’ve ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.

1. Commit Yourself to Developing Your Creativity

The first step is to fully devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others and put time aside each day to develop your skills.

2. Become an Expert

One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in that area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems.

3. Reward Your Curiosity

One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity to explore new topics.

4. Realize that Creativity is Sometimes Its Own Reward

While rewarding yourself is important, it is also important to develop intrinsic motivation. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.

5. Be Willing to Take Risks

When it comes to building your creative skills, you need to be willing to take risks in order to advance your abilities. While your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.

6. Build Your Confidence

Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Make note of the progress you have made, commend your efforts and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.

7. Make Time for Creativity

You won’t be able to develop your creative talents if you don’t make time for them. Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project.

8. Overcome Negative Attitudes that Block Creativity

According to a 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, positive moods can increase your ability to think creatively. According to Dr. Adam Anderson, senior author of the study, “If you are doing something that requires you be creative or be in a think tank, you want to be in a place with good mood.” Focus on eliminating negative thoughts or self-criticisms that may impair your ability to develop strong creative skills.

9. Fight Your Fear of Failure

The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze your progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.

10. Brainstorm to Inspire New Ideas

Brainstorming is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for developing your creativity. Start by suspending your judgment and self-criticism, then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice.

11. Realize That Most Problems Have Multiple Solutions

The next time to approach a problem, try looking for a variety of solutions. Instead of simply going with the first idea you have, take the time to think of other possible ways to approach the situation. This simple activity is a great way to build both your problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

12. Keep a Creativity Journal

Start keeping a journal to follow your creative process and track the ideas you produce. A journal is a great way to reflect back on what you have accomplished and look for other possible solutions. This journal can be used to save ideas that can later serve as future inspiration.

13. Create a Mind Map

A mind map is a great way to connect ideas and look for innovative answers to questions. Create a mind map by writing down a central topic or word. Next, link related terms or ideas around the central word. While similar to brainstorming, this technique allows for branching ideas and offers a very visual way of seeing how these ideas are linked.

14. Challenge Yourself

Once you have developed some basic creative skills, it is important to continually challenge yourself in order to further advance your abilities. Look for more difficult approaches, try out new things and avoid always using the same solutions you have used in the past.

15. Try the “Six Hats” Technique

The “six hats” technique involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.

1) Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
2) White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
3) Yellow Hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
4) Black Hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
5) Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
6) Blue Hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?

16. Look for Sources of Inspiration

Never expect creativity to just happen. Look for new sources of inspiration that will give you fresh ideas and motivate you to generate unique answers to questions. Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend. Utilize whatever strategy or technique works best for you.

17. Create Opportunities for Creativity

In addition to looking for inspiration, you also need to create your own opportunities for creativity. This might involve tackling a new project or finding new tools to use in your current projects.

18. Consider Alternative Scenarios

When approaching a problem, utilize “what if…” questions to consider each possible scenario. If you take a specific approach, what will the outcome be? By looking at these alternatives beforehand, you’ll be better able to develop creative solutions to problems.

19. Create a Flow Chart

When you are developing a new project, start by creating a flow chart to track the presentation of the project from start to finish. Look for various paths or sequences of events that might occur. A flow chart can help you visualize the final product, eliminate potential problems and create unique solutions.

20. Try the Snowball Technique

Have you ever noticed how one great idea often leads directly to another? You can take advantage of this by utilizing a “snowball technique” when you are generating ideas for your project. If the idea isn’t appropriate for your current work, set it aside to work on later or implement it in a future project.

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