Friday, May 9, 2008

Innovate or Evaporate

As part of the SHRI conference we paid an on-site visit to the PHILIPS innohub - a most amazing centre for innovation and experimentation for the Philips group. New inventions are on display including an ironing board with a built in steamer and jacket refresher that clears odours. There is also lighting that changes colours to enhance moods and lighting that is more enviro-friendly yet as bright as conventional lighting.
The presentation from the team who work with Philips in this centre included some great discussion on what makes for innovation. They quoted Steve Jobs from Apple as saying, "Innovation is teamwork" but acknowledged that there are so many different versions and understandings of what innovation could be. At Philips, Innovation is understood to mean "creating new value and bringing it successfully to market."
Ideas are seen as the start of the journey. For all these ideas to generate, there cannot be silos and people have to be actively connected.
How does one ensure that innovation is stimulated throughout the organisation? People need to be encouraged to come up with the small ideas that could make the difference.
At the innohub, there are idea generation workshops to actively harness the creativity and to try things out through simulation.
There is also a focus on seeing the vision and exploring the options. As part of this process, story-telling is seen as vital.
One area where companies are using innovative thinking is to go beyond customer service and enter into the realm of staging customer experiences.
Companies are looking to be more than simply the sellers of goods and services and want to transform into centres of excellence.
As Proust writes, "The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes."
In a diverse team with different people moving into different roles, we could meet this challenge.
This is all about looking for the small improvements that can result from small ideas and thereby setting the scene for continuous innovation.

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