Keeping the Wheels Turning

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been conducting a series of interviews with innovation leaders from a variety of organizations. From P&G and Estee Lauder to Sandia National Laboratories and NESTA, every leader we have spoken to has expressed a few common themes around what type of person makes for a successful innovation effort, especially in this economy.

In short: innovators are people who can look beyond the problems and challenges in front of them. They look past what they can see and hear and touch and come up with ideas and solutions that get to the root of a problem. The economy? It’s not the root of the problem; so it’s not an excuse for putting innovation on hold. Innovators consistently identify ways to move forward, even when everything else seems to be pulling them back.

We here at futurethink happen to think that this skill is one that can be developed with a little bit of conscious effort. Sure, some people have more innate ‘creativity’ than others; some have no problem dissecting problems and attacking them from different angles. But anyone can make an effort to broaden their perspective and beef up their arsenal of problem-solving tools. Just a few days ago, BusinessWeek had a great article on How to Keep Innovating which focuses on simple ways to continually open up to new things.

What are you doing to keep innovation moving forward in this economic environment? What types of people are helping or hindering your efforts?


One Response to Keeping the Wheels Turning

  1. Kim Marcille says:

    Looking for urgency where we can find it. Right now we’re using the opportunity of the Recovery & Reinvestment Act to drive our clients’ innovation efforts. What can we create that will be fundable? How can we amplify our project ideas so that they’ll have the significant impact those dollars require?

    Being inclusive. Making sure everyone’s voice is heard, and everyone gets a vote. Keeping an “open tent” philosophy to encourage new voices to join.

    Sharing and expanding the vision. Keeping the vision alive and vibrant by talking about it, internally and externally. The seeds that are planted during those dialogues help keep the team focused on the future we want to create, rather than on the current difficulties.

    Hinderers? The people who think it can only be done one way. The Helpers? The evangelizers and those who help herd the cats.

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