The Innovation Blog

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

Posted by Creative Realities on September 19, 2012

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.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Stage Gate, structuring for innovation, game-changing, Innovation, breakthrough innovation, strategy, growth, decision-making, Incremental Innovation

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

Posted by Creative Realities on May 21, 2012

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.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Absurdity, executive sponsor, new ideas, Skin in the game, Innovation, breakthrough innovation, decision-making

Everyone Isn't Tomorrow

Posted by Creative Realities on October 24, 2011

If I hear once more about how Facebook and the iPhone define the speed of change in business I’m going to scream. And the tragic passing of Steve Jobs has only increased the noise on this topic. The fact is that like all aspects of innovation the same rules don’t apply everywhere.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Future, Future Pull, Future Trends, changing the game

Communication Strategy: Open-Ended Questions, Beware! (Part 1)

Posted by Creative Realities on May 20, 2011

Here’s today’s proposition: There are times in working and personal situations where open-ended (unsupported) questions can unintentionally sabotage and seriously derail the communication.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Communication, questions, Innovation

HBR Blog: Today's Innovation Can Rise from Yesterday's Failure

Posted by Creative Realities on March 29, 2011

In this HBR Blog, created by Jay F. Terwilliger with partner Mark H. Sebell and Vijay Govindarajan, this simple framework is used to determine the success of an innovative effort. It takes corporate will, a marketplace, and strategic competencies to succeed. In other words, successful innovation requires motive, means, and opportunity. Innovation efforts fail anytime they fail to deliver on all three of these domains strongly enough.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Jay Terwilliger, Vijay Govindarajan, Learning From Failure, Innovation, Cross Functional Teams, Pursuit of Ideas, strategic innovation, growth, new product development

The Humorous Bazooka

Posted by Creative Realities on March 18, 2011

Hu-mor-ous ba-zoo-ka (hew’mer-us be-zoo’ka), n. 1. a funny, witty comment that, intentionally or unintentionally, shoots down another person’s idea.  2. innovation killer
Think back to the last brainstorming session in which you participated, where the goal was to come up with innovative ideas for your business.  How many creative ideas were put forth for the group’s consideration?  How many of those really new ones survives the barrage of negativity and doubt that usually greets new concepts?  And, of the ideas that did survive, how many have been implemented for are still moving in that direction?  Very likely, few made it into development and fewer still—if any—actually are on their way to market.  You’ve got the creativity part down; you just haven’t learned how to be innovative!
If your company is typical, I’ll wager that plenty of good ideas surfaces during the brainstorming but few, if any, of the truly breakthrough ones made it out of the room alive.  Most of the truly new ideas were probably shot down with a barrage of humorous bazookas—the act of shooting down another’s idea with a witty barb.
This tendency to lob verbal grenades at new ideas has been and still remains so pervasive that I coined the term The Bazooka Syndrome in 1982, when I first began my career as a creative problem-solving facilitator.  Every time I have described this behavior to a new group of people, it has hit a responsive chord.  Everyone instantly identifies with The Bazooka Syndrome because we have all been hit by these verbal missiles.  And most people will also admit, with shamed faces, that they have been guilty of using bazookas on the ideas of others (colleagues, spouses, kids, family, and friends).
The Bazooka Syndrome captures what we unintentionally, but instinctively, do to new ideas.  We make fun of them.  We point out every single problem.  We end up annihilating them.  We point out every single problem.  We end up annihilating them, all in the spirit of constructive flaw-finding and, allegedly, idea improvement.
For creative people who are good at generating fresh ideas, being hit by a bazooka blast is enormously discouraging.  Frustration abounds in organizations that are skilled at dreaming up new ideas yet ineffective at protecting them from the bazooka wielders that exist everywhere.
It’s very discouraging to watch competitors successfully launch innovations based on ideas you tossed around but failed to pursue because you were gunned down by a bazooka.  Are the phrases “Gee, we thought of that months (or years!) ago” and “we tried that but couldn’t make it work” commonly heard within the walls of your organization?  If so, your company is undoubtedly populated by bazooka experts and, as a result, is short on innovation.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Innovation, creative problem solving, humorous bazooka

Wayne Gretzky and the Perfect Metaphor for Innovation

Posted by Creative Realities on March 9, 2011

In a recent workshop I was asked this question: “If you could only share one thing that executive decision-makers must learn if they are to get what they expect from their innovation investments what would it be?” I didn’t hesitate for a second. I immediately flashed this hockey graphic onto the wall. They thought I was nuts.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Innovation Strategy, Innovation Metaphor, Innovation Metrics

Game-Changing vs. Incremental Innovation

Posted by Creative Realities on November 7, 2010

This past week I got sucked into what I thought was a pretty weak online debate. The question posed was, "Is Incremental innovation the enemy of Breakthrough Innovation?"

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Innovation, innovation consulting, breakthrough innovation, Championed Teamwork, leadership, strategic innovation, strategy, growth, Strategic Goals, criteria for innovation, decision-making, breakthrough, new product development, Essentials for Innovation, Risk, Management

Presenting an Innovative Idea to Management

Posted by Creative Realities on September 16, 2010

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Bat and Bow, Corporate Rain Dance, Leadership-Empowerment Fable

A Compelling Case for Innovation: The First Critical Success Factor

Posted by Creative Realities on August 20, 2010

There are 9 Critical Success Factors that a truly innovative organization must have in order to create & sustain a culture of innovation. The first is: A Compelling Case for Innovation.

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Topics: Mark Sebell, Compelling Case for Innovation, 9 Critical Success Factors