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Should Innovation Be Top-Down Or Bottom-Up?...It Depends!

Structuring for Innovation

We are often asked if the best way to structure for innovation is top-down or bottom-up? The answer is both if you are going to succeed in the long run.

The Person Who Can Say “Yes” to Innovation Without Permission

The over-arching truth about big innovation is this; “You Get What You PlayFor,” because the processes and tools for managing core businesses don’t work when the goal is to identify and successfully introduce ideas that don’t exist today; true innovations not incremental ones. So you get what you play for and it’s who gets to play that makes all the difference.

When executives create teams to pursue breakthrough innovation they typically push the work down to the operating levels, just like they do so successfully with their core businesses. That sounds eminently laudable – after all, they’re “empowering” a group of hands-on people. They think they are too busy to deal with innovation but there’s another reason for taking that approach: Leaders don’t want to get involved in big innovation. They are afraid of it because they haven’t experienced it or been schooled in managing it; and bosses don’t like being visibly vulnerable.

Innovating a Superior Experience

sad UX happy1

In the last few years, the user experience has come increasingly to the forefront of innovation and design thinking.  Colloquially known as UX design, considering how the consumer interacts with a product or brand is a way of meeting tough to articulate needs beyond pure functionality.

Is Bill Belichick a Design Thinker?

Bill Belichick Design Thinking

Bill Belichick is widely regarded as a football genius, contrarian, and grump. He is also an innovator. All of the X's and O's of design thinking can be found under the hoodie.

On Creativity - How has the economy impacted creative thinking?

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What is the state of creativity today?  Is creative thinking following the roller coaster ride of the economy (with lots of stomach-churning drops)?  Or, is creativity going the way of gold, holding steady in spite of the tumultuous times? 

The Power of a Creative Space

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Last week we led a client team through two and a half days of inventing.  This brainstorming session marked a pivotal moment in the work we’d been doing over the previous three months gathering insights about the forces at work in the space around their industry.   The Invention Session is one we describe as “invigorzhausting” (one of the client team countered with “exhaustorated”) because of the extended amount of time we ask them to be “on” coming up with newness. 

Remembering Steve Jobs

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Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem. 

Innovation at Ground Zero

Ground Zero Discovery Channel

Last night I watched the amazing Discovery Channel documentary Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero chronicling the reconstruction of the World Trade Center after the tragedy of 9/11. The show is an awe inspiring mix of engineering marvels, construction complexity, and a healing nation. The documentary, directed by Steven Spielberg, chronicles the entire span of the project, from the initial visions of the architects, to the planning and coordination of the supervisors, to the steel, concrete, and iron workers erecting the skyscraper at jaw-dropping heights.  The new World Trade center is designed to be both a memorial honoring the past, and a beacon of hope looking toward America's future. No matter what project you are working on, there are some impressive takeaways you can apply to your own work.      

Quake it up!


I’m sitting in the middle of our weekly staff meeting listening to the many updates and insights being shared by our team of innovationists when suddenly, from the back of the room, comes the calm but concerned voice of a co-worker saying, “Aaahh, is anyone else noticing that the room is moving?” A quick look around by all of us and it is clear that the room IS moving. In fact, the whole building is moving. Excitedly, someone suggests, “This is an earthquake!”  Unsure what to do, we all just sit there.  (Probably not our wisest move, but typical of inexperienced east coasters). A few moments later, I glance up and notice the slow swaying of the building is creating a not-so-slow swaying of the light fixture above my head.  I quickly jump up and move toward the door. The others, unsure of the reasons for my sudden movements, sense an emergency, and do the same. We head outdoors and immediately log in to Twitter, Facebook, and other similar sites to get confirmation from all social sources that we did, in fact, just experience an earthquake.  Now, this might not be the most noteworthy earthquake experience, but it did truly impact me.

Top Retweets for July 2011

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