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Creating blockbuster innovations


 Innovation arises from a nunber of sources but recent work continues to show that the time of the lone inventor is pretty much over. Instead companies need robust agile systems that capture and develop large numbers of potential ideas and small improvements to create new blockbusters.

Research from our Group (The Creative Problem Solving Group) identifies a number of factors essential to the development of blockbusters:

  • Commitment from senior management and especially their commitment to creating a climate for creativity and innovation. Additionally senior managers need to understand and perform in their sponsorship role, involving themselves by providing back up and 'shelter' for the team during the long lead times involved. Unfortunately it appears that many hard pressd senior managers do not know specfically enough what to focus their limited time on.
  • Clear and stable direction. Its not about clearly defining the specifics of the end state - though this may be appropriate - but the overal commitment to the innovation process and the establishment of defined parameters within which the product or service can be iterated and emerge. These parameters are derived from intimate knowledge and close personal observation of the (potential) customer and deep exploration of the product or service 'space'.
  • Improvisation - blockbuster innovations are not developed to an end state arriving perfect first time. They are rapidly prototyped, amended in the light of experience and tried again and again. One major innovator coins it as 'fail often in order to succeed sooner'.
  • Design of process. Development of blockbusters cannot follow a predetermined project pathway. It is a messy process. Thus the skill of desigining your way through the process wisely and intelligently, selecting the right tools and using them in the right way is essential. To preserve rigour and flexibilty there is a need to deploy a strong framework for desiging process.

To handle such a complex adaptive approach requires a tolerance of ambiguity. Again our research shows this is the key distinguishing factor between highly innovative and less innovative organisations. The same work shows most companies become less tolerant of risk and ambiguity as they grow. And their leaders tend towards less risk tolerance as they rise in organisational heirarchies.

Awareness precedes action. So now you are aware, what do you want to do about it?

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