Thursday, September 23, 2010


I was privileged to listen to a superb talk on innovation by Mark Wynne, Managing Director of Kimberly-Clark Australia. Some of the key points he made are very useful to organisations looking to develop a strong culture of innovation.
Some of the ideas that Mark put forward:

1. It is not innovation unless something changes that creates value. Innovation is not the same as a good idea that goes nowhere.
2. Innovation can be risky and expensive but without it, our businesses go nowhere. The more fun we have innovating, the more people enjoy working in that environment.
We cannot stay ahead without innovation.
3. Innovation is hard and the problem starts at the top! We can't always predict the future very well but companies love predictability and streamlining. Innovation is often risky and established firms have more to lose than 'cheeky start-ups'.
We often don't like to try things we have not tried before and we go back to assumed paradigms. This is often what happens in companies and silos begin to grow and everyone begins to accept the status quo.
4. So, how do we go about breaking down these barriers to look outward?
Firstly look at your staff. How do you ensure that they look for incremental improvements and also breakthroughs? Mark suggests that we need innovation champions who are prepared to overcome the obstacles faced by those seeking to innovate. The champions' role is to connect the right people and to ensure that there are the opportunities for marketing and technology to collide.
5. Train staff in creative thinking techniques so that everyone opens their mind to different ways of doing things. Have innovation as a standard agenda item at meetings. You don't need consultants to achieve this. Your 'in-sultants' need to have an environment where it is safe to speak out and say what you see as going wrong, with no consequences.
So, are you constantly energising the innovation process? Are you ensuring that all knowledge and information is being socialised so that it is not retained in silos that are hoping to hold power? Are you allowing for failure? Do you have an ideas bank where each suggestion receives an answer? Do you 'steal' ideas from everywhere and do you have a rewards program that recognises innovation?

No comments: