Four Discovery Philosophies That Lead To Innovation

I Spy Cynthia K

How innovative is your organization?

Do your executives instill in you and your coworkers the courage to try new ideas?

The Source Of Organizational Innovation

Organizational innovation starts at the top.

At least that’s the finding from The Innovator’s DNA authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen. They researched and studied highly innovative companies and found several common traits.

Innovative organizations are led by founder-entrepreneurs who excel at discovery. They are not bashful about leading innovative change. These leaders have a higher discovery quotient and foster that same attitude in all management and functional areas of the company.

They frequently create C-suite level positions dedicated to innovation. They also fill their teams with people who excel at the five discovery areas: associating, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting.

Four Philosophies Of Innovative Organizations

From their studies of innovative organizations, Dyer, Gregersen and Christensen developed the 3P framework of innovative organizations: people, processes and philosophies.

In the 3P framework, four guiding philosophies permeate an innovative organization’s culture.

1. Innovation is everyone’s job.

Executives create a safe space for others to innovate. Employees are allowed to express opinions, take risks, experiment, question and acknowledge mistakes without fear of retribution.

Leaders challenge people to ask why daily. They know that when people stop asking questions, they’ve stopped using their minds and moved into execution mode.

Innovative organizations give employees time to innovative. Some use the 20 percent project rule, encouraging employees to spend 20 percent of their time (one day a week) working on a pet project.

2. Disruptive innovation is part of our innovation portfolio.

Research and development is not assigned to one department. Everyone is encouraged to create new ideas. This results in the democratization of innovative efforts.

Innovative organizations dedicate a greater percentage of human and financial resources to innovative projects. They often design disruptive innovative projects using more radical technologies to establish new markets.

3. Deploy lots of small, properly organized innovation project teams.

Since everyone is invited to be creative, innovative leaders keep work teams small. This allows each employee to feel empowered and responsible for innovation.

Innovative leaders realize that productivity decreases with large teams. Small teams create an empowered, flexible organization that allows the organization to be nimble and quick.

Many organizations fail with innovative projects because they don’t understand a fundamental principal: the more radical the innovation, the more autonomy the project team will require from the organization’s existing functions and structure.

4. Take smart risks in the pursuit of innovation.

Remarkable companies have a tolerance for failure. They see it as part of the natural innovation process and impossible to avoid. They adopt IDEO’s slogan, “Fail often to succeed sooner.”

Most organizations embrace incremental, slow improvement because they are risk-adverse. But this slows true innovation.

Innovative leaders understand that breakthrough innovations require risk taking to make them happen.

Courage-To-Innovate Attitude

Together, these four philosophies mirror the courage-to-innovate attitudes of innovative leaders. Innovative organizations adopt and infuse the code for innovation right into the organization’s people, processes and guiding philosophies.

Why do so many organizations punish people who take risks instead of rewarding them from learning from failure? Who are some of today’s top innovative leaders and why?

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