Technology Innovation Insights ™

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How Do you Reduce the Barriers to Innovation?

Jim Tanner, Chief Innovation Officer at Morningstar gave a fantastic presentation on the topic of “Creating a Culture of Innovation” at a recent Technology Innovation & Leadership Summit.  In my past two posts I summarized, from his presentation, that most innovations are actually quite obvious, but because of the “Innovation Paradox,” normal best practices at established companies often inhibit innovation!

Read the first two posts here and here.

So how can you reduce the barriers to innovation?

Here are some traditional approaches, and yes, these are real strategies that innovation “experts” suggest:

1. Fun furniture
2. Channel your “inner consultant” and think “big thoughts” about how to disrupt your industry.
3. Have an Innovation lab
4. Lots of post it notes

If we accept the premise that a lot of innovative ideas are obvious, there might be a lot of easy things to do to make something out of these ideas.  Think of it like making lemonade out of lemons.

If you recognize PROBLEMS as OPPORTUNITIES, then the solution you create will, by its nature be innovative.

Not everyone likes to discuss problems.  But identifying the right problem is the key to “innovating” the right types of solutions.

Consider the movie Moneyball.  Brad Pitts, plays Billy Bean of the Oakland A’s.  The problem statement he defines is that the Oakland A’s have the smallest budget in baseball.  His management team wants to use the same approach as other teams, with more budget.  He states that if we use the same approach to staff their team that the Yankees do, they will fail, because the Yankees will always have more budget.  Billy had the team solve the problem with a new approach, which worked, and that year they won 20 games in a row, and in turn, changed the game.

So TALK ABOUT YOUR problems.  It helps to talk about your problems.  If you can talk about your problems, then the solutions can become sort of obvious..

Here’s an example:

Ikea.  Ikea started off as a discount seller of furniture.  But when the furniture manufacturers in Sweden boycotted them, they had to go to manufacturers in other countries to get their furniture.  They learned how to spec furniture that could be easily shipped, and then put together.  As a result, they created the concept of buying furniture that you could buy in the box and put together yourself!  They created a whole market because of that original problem!

Jim identifies six strategies for turning the problem into an innovative idea.

The first step is to properly identify the problem.

Want to learn the rest of the steps?

Be sure to watch Jim’s presentation: Go here immediately to view.

Updated: April 26, 2017 — 7:04 pm

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