Category Archives: Disruptive Innovation

Managing the Creative Process

Managing the creative process is daunting.  When enveloped by an organization, the organization knowingly and unknowingly forces constraints upon the process.  They look at the financial, market and manufacturing feasibility of ideas and ignore the ones that don’t fit into the model.  On one hand this is necessary.  Management is tasked with building wealth and creating profits.  Ideas that don’t match those strategic goals have to be eliminated.

The problem arises because creativity and profitability are not related.  It’s impossible to design a business process that yields a high percentage of quality innovations because high quality innovation is a lower percentage reality.  Psychologist Dean Simonton said it best when he wrote, “Quality is a probabilistic function of quantity.”

You get a few high quality innovations because you create many, many innovations.  An example of this is highlighted by Keith Richards (I hope everyone knows he was in the Rolling Stones) in his memoir,  about the origins of the song “Brown Sugar”:

I watched Mick write the lyrics. . . . He wrote it down as fast as he could move his hand. I’d never seen anything like it. He had one of those yellow legal pads, and he’d write a verse a page, just write a verse and then turn the page, and when he had three pages filled, they started to cut it. It was amazing. It’s unbelievable how prolific he was.

Eventually, Richards came to understand that one of the hardest and most crucial parts of his job was to “turn the f**king tap off,” to rein in Mick Jagger’s incredible creative energy.
This same creative energy was witnessed before in the likes of Einstein, Bach, Edison and others.  From purely a percentage viewpoint, they all created more “junk” than they did “good ideas”, but compared to others, they created more higher quality innovations.  What this causes for the organization is lots of spurious stuff to look through.  Processes need to be designed to allow creativity to be unfettered.

One way of getting unfettered creativity and meeting the goals of the organization is to use Challenges.  Challenges focus innovation in the areas that are most interesting to the organization while allowing for creativity.  The Challenge is simply to address the issue with a solution, there is no constraint on the solution.  This is a midpoint in the creative process with each side getting a little of what they want and need.

Innovation Requires “Me” Time

What creates an atmosphere where creative ideas can flow? Where innovation is second nature? It can feel impossible to innovate because we are so preoccupied with the mundane daily tasks that fill our time.

It’s important to take care of payroll and be sure people are paid. It may be important to talk with product development and keep a handle on what’s going on there are all kinds of things that take our time in the day-to-day functioning of the business.

However, it’s impossible to really think creatively with so much noise going on all of the time. You also need to take some “me” time, or some time off from the routine, and contemplate your problems with an innovative mindset.

Innovation is by definition a creative process. Being too caught up in just staying ahead of the next meeting means that we never get to step back from problems and consider innovative solutions.

That’s why, even when it seems too busy, a good manager, a good innovator, will take some time for him/her self and just step back to mull things over.
Write the problem down, brainstorm with yourself, and bring someone else in, if it helps. Give yourself time to simply stew over it. You’ll come up with ideas and new approaches that you won’t think of in the midst of a rush.
Take time to be innovative.

Can Innovation Be Disruptive?

You may wonder if fostering a culture of innovation can be disruptive to a business. The simple answer to that question is, YES!

The real question should be: Is the disruption caused by innovation at our company going to be worth it? and the answer to that question is also Yes.

Experts say that you need to be open to disruption in order to change, and that disruptive innovation, if embraced, can lead to corrective alterations that help a business to thrive or even survive.

With 65 percent of businesses seeing the need for significant changes over the next two years, it is imperative to embrace and management the disruption that is sure to follow.

A bit of chaos encourages creative thinking and innovative solutions. So as you encourage and promote innovation, use techniques to control and channel the ensuing disruption into productive means of progress.

View disruption in your industry and company as an opportunity, not a threat. A little chaos gives you the chance to examine your current business plan, and see if it needs to be improved.

Look at your current technology. Are their innovations you can make in the use of technology in your business that would enhance the work experience for your employees, the service end of the business for your customers, the supply side of the business for your suppliers?

Well-established businesses sometimes approach this chaos in a different way than a younger business. They see it as threatening the current business plan. Instead of facing disruption with fear, however, companies and leaders should face it with optimism and with a sense of the opportunity it affords.

A Diagnostic for Disruptive Innovation

One of the biggest challenges today is systematically identifying the innovations with the greatest likelihood of creating creative disruptive growth. If the wrong one is identified, its a waste of time, money and focus. With a quick series of diagnostics the most promising opportunities can be identified. The Customer Diagnostic looks for over served or unsatisfied consumers. Interviewing, analysis of margins and pricing trends and product reviews can identify these customers. The Portfolio Diagnostic analyzes if the products meets needs of disruptable customer groups, and looks at technical characteristics and a potential business model. The Competitor Diagnostic decides if the selected opportunity takes unique advantages of weaknesses and blind spots.

By systematically conducting these diagnostics, individuals or a group can quickly identify which opportunities are most promising. It can identify high potential opportunity, address gaps between planned deployment and factors that determine success, and create new-growth businesses.

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