If you are involved in product innovation, you likely already know about the website Innovation Excellence, home of the global innovation community that provides connection and conversation among its nearly 200,000 visitors each month. The site was co-founded by my guest, Braden Kelley. Braden is also a speaker and executive trainer as well as an author with a growing list of innovation publications.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include:
- Organizations that are in trouble often turn to innovation to bail themselves out. They could have avoided the trouble by having an effective innovation program, which requires a culture that supports innovation.
- The biggest barrier to innovation is that it is a project, not an inherent capability of the organization.
The 5 keys to developing an innovation culture are:
- Learn the basics of culture change, such as the 8-step Kotter change model or the Leading Change Formula. Braden is developing a Change Planning Toolkit based on his experience and research helping organizations change their culture to support innovation. We’ll discuss this in detail in a future interview when the Toolkit is available.
- Build a common language of innovation. Define what innovation means for the organization. Braden’s definition is that innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative. Then build vision, strategy, and goals for innovation. Finally, consider what infrastructure is needed to support innovation.
- Create a connected organization. Design the organization to apply the additional talents and skills employees have but are not used in their primary role. This “overhang” of capabilities can be applied for innovation by connecting people with the work that needs to be done. One model, used at Cisco, is to create internal internships to contribute to other projects. Another is Intuit’s innovation vacations (my term) that allows employees to take a scheduled break from the regular work to work on a short-term basis for another project.
- Identify those who care about innovation. Recognize that some employees are most comfortable in day-to-day operational roles and maintaining the status quo while others are constantly looking to change things for the better. Those that are seeking to make improvements, especially from the customer’s perspective, should be identified to contribute to product development. This also involves unlocking employees’ initiative, creativity, and passion.
- Make innovation a team sport. There is no such thing as a lone innovator. All innovators have a team around them. Braden defined 9 roles for effective innovation teams: revolutionary, conscript, connector, artist, customer champion, troubleshooter, judge, magic maker, and evangelist. See details in the blog post he wrote.
- Braden’s white paper related to our discussion, “Five Ways to Make Your Innovation Culture Smell Better.”
- Braden’s website.
- Innovation Excellence – the world’s most popular innovation website.
- Braden on Twitter.
- Braden on LinkedIn.
“Sometimes we focus on the door that has just closed, and miss the door that just opened.” – Braden Kelley
“The question is not how intelligent you are, but how are you intelligent?” – Sir Ken Robinson
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.