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How to Innovate
“Innovation isn’t some dark, mysterious ancient ritual: it’s simply a mindset that involves constant probing to see how we can fix things, find new things, or transform things.”
Here’s a video clip from my opening keynote for the 94th Annual General Meeting of the PGA of America, in which I talk about the necessity of “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” and of the importance of the concept of experiential capital as a foundation for innovation.
I’ve written and spoken about the concept of experiential capital quite a bit through the years – I think in a fast paced economy its one of the most important innovation strategies that we can undertake.
One particularly good post which can help you get thinking about this concept is “Understanding 21st century capital: Why it’s not just financial capital anymore“, in which I wrote”
Experiential Capital. In a world in which Apple generates 60% of its revenue from products that didn’t exist four years ago, it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback – but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it will be one of the most important assets you can possess.
I also write about the idea in my book Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast, where I made this observation:
“Innovation comes from risk, and risk comes from experience. The most important asset today isn’t found on your balance sheet – it is found in the accumulated wisdom from the many risks that you’ve taken. The more experiential capital you have, the more you’ll succeed.”
I close with the observation: “Investing in experiential capital is one of the most important things you can do.”
When people ask me about the “secrets” of innovative organizations, this is one of the key attributes I outline. They realize they are immersed in a world of fast-paced ideas — and they take on many different projects, some of which are doomed to fail, in order to build the overall experience of the organization.
Which begs the question: how many experiential oriented projects do you have underway that involves new technological platforms, social network and branding or marketing projects; business model innovation or any other number of ideas?
A clip from my keynote for the PGA, challenging the audience to think about innovation in a different way. Innovation isn’t just about the invention of new products and services — it’s also about focusing as a leader on how to “run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business!”
As you can see, I ran a live interactive text message poll in the room — we had responses from 200+ people in a matter of two minutes. I was then able to use the nature of the response through the rest of the talk. For this group, innovation is really about ‘growing and transforming the business’.
What do innovative organizations do? They re-orient themselves for an economy in which their ability to react to fast paced change will increasingly define their success.
In this clip, Jim Carroll outlines for an audience of several thousand the key attributes of today’s innovation heroes:
In essence, these organizations concentrate upon:
- an accelerated innovation cycle
- the rapid ingestion of new technologies / methodologies
- faster time to market
- rapid re-focusing of resources to deal with new opportunity or threat
- a rabid focus on operational excellence
- a rapid response to volatility
- and a re-orientation to fast paced consumer and brand perception
Jim has studied the innovation attitudes of hundreds of global organizations, and has carefully come to define what it is that allows some organizations to achieve stunning levels of innovation success, while others become innovation laggards. These attributes are a good part of the defining characteristics for success.
What do you think?
Jim challenges an audience to think about collaboration in the era of the ‘global idea machine’.
In this case, Jim was the opening keynote speaker for the 2010 US Navy/Marine/Air Force Child Youth Program conference in Dallas, Texas, and was there to challenge them to think differently in terms of service delivery, particularly as parents and children on military bases come to expect different forms of support and interaction.
Here’s one thing I’ve been stressing to many of my clients during keynotes, leadership and workshops: organizations need to work hard to ensure they establish an overall culture of innovation. What does that mean? Everyone throughout the organization has a mindset that they are equally responsible for innovative ideas; they’re colaborative with those ideas; and they focus on three key questions: how can we run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.
Here’s a clip from a recent keynote in which I explore this theme
IBM seems to like my ideas; they put out a white-paper in January of this year, and included a quote that catches the key theme in this video clip:
According to futurist Jim Carroll, transformation is very doable for many businesses: “They are realizing that innovation isn’t some dark, mysterious ancient ritual: they’re realizing that it’s simply a mindset that involves constant probing to see how we can fix things, find new things, or transform things, whether those things be business processes, customer service methods, new products, marketing and distribution cannel concepts, or just about anything else.”