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04 2012

Top 3 Workplace Innovations Misconceptions

Syndicated from: Box of Crayons

With some good planning and mostly good luck, I started my working career in the world of innovation. Twenty years ago “innovation” wasn’t the buzzword it’s become. We spent plenty of time explaining (mostly failing to explain) how innovation and creativity was going to be (and in fact, already was) a core competence. There’s no escaping from that now. Whether you’re working at a big company or a small one, you probably know in your bones that you not only need to be masterful at delivering the current stuff, but you need to be reimagining it at the same time. This month I’m sharing some opinions on how innovation might flourish within organizations, and we’ve got some fabulous Great Work Interviews to supplement my soapbox rantings. Let me set the stage by tackling three core misconceptions about innovation. 1. Innovation is about products and services When Apple releases its latest cool thing, it’s easy to say: that’s innovation! When you wander the aisles of your supermarket and you see the latest variation on toothpaste, you might go: that’s innovation (and whose job is it to keep inventing toothpaste anyway?) When you go to your bank and they’ve got a new way to manage your money, it might cross your mind that this is innovation. But that’s not all it is. At the heart of innovation are these two questions: Is there a better way? Is there an unanswered need?  There isn’t a moment in your life – work and beyond – to which you can’t apply those questions. Your desk, your office, your team, your project, your route to work, your lunch break, your team meetings, your email, your project management, your strategy, your Everything At Work can be subject to innovation. And, quite frankly, that’s likely to be a better use of your time than thinking of a new type of toothpaste. 2. Innovation is for the crazily creative people If you nodded your head at the first point, then you’ll see where this is going right away. You can say that innovation is for those people in marketing, the ones wearing the all black designer outfits. You can say that innovation is the remit of that guy with the loud shirts who drinks a lot of coffee. You can assume that someone in the C-suite has got innovation covered. Or you can look at those on your team and say: we’re up for doing things smarter here. We’re up for creating the missing thing. We’re up for taking responsibility for how we do it, rather than just being told. 3. Innovation needs fancy stuff Crazy coloured sofas. Soft toys. Free soda. Having hung out a little at Google’s campus, I can tell you that these things can liven things up a little for sure. But here’s all you need for a little innovation: Paper. And a pen.  Let me get you started Write down all the rules by which you operate at the moment. There are a lot of unspoken assumptions, a lot of patterns, a lot of habits, a lot of “here’s how things happen”. Or perhaps – just take the pad and pencil with you and when you notice a way of doing things during the day, jot it down. What you creating is grist for the mill. If you know the rules, you start to know the rules you might be able to break. Not just for the sake of breaking them. But for the quest of doing things a little better. This is going to be a fun month!  

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