Have you ever wondered how to better make use of emerging social media tools to discover new internal process or product innovations? As new communication tools gain popularity, we are seeing an increasing number of internal and market driven innovations brought to life. Specifically, an important aspect of social media that is driving this change is crowdsourcing, which acts as a rich repository of ideas coming from both inside of your company as well as your customers. If you are looking to better leverage crowdsourcing tools or want to hear from today’s leading companies on the subject, consider the newest addition to World Research Group’s Open Innovation Series: INNOVATION3: Crowdsourcing, Culture, and Tools Summit. Read the rest of this entry »
Here at futurethink, we’ve been researching various smartphone applications to feature in our newest resource list on mobile tools that can help support your innovation strategy. These applications focus on features ranging from capturing ideas on the go, connecting and collaborating with various project members, to cloud storage systems, and brainstorming tools. This got us thinking; what would our ideal innovation focused smartphone application look like? While applications that try to be everything for everyone are generally doomed to mediocrity, if we had unlimited resources to design the ideal innovation application, here is where we would start.
“Our model is to increase employee freedom as we grow, rather than limit it, to continue to attract and nourish innovative people, so we have a better chance of long-term continued success.”
— Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
To become more innovative, companies need to cultivate the key elements necessary for innovation— one of which is an innovation-friendly culture. To build a corporate climate that truly fosters innovation, you must be able to encourage smart risks and energize your workforce. Netflix, one of Fortune Magazine’s 100 fastest growing companies of 2010, does exactly this by promoting a culture of freedom and responsibility from the top down. The company’s commitment to these principles goes far beyond just a values statement chiseled in marble.
• Freedom — Netflix does not have a vacation policy and doesn’t track vacation time. Employees may take as many vacation days as they feel they need. When it comes to expenses and business travel, the only rule is to “act in Netflix’s best interests.”
• You Have to Believe — Netflix also requires that all employees take responsibility for contributing to the company’s success. High performers are substantially rewarded and the merely adequate are quickly let go.
Sound harsh? According to Hastings, “We need a culture that supports rapid innovation and excellent execution. Both are required for continuous growth. There is tension between these two goals: between creativity and discipline.”
How has balancing creativity and discipline paid off for Netflix? Read the rest of this entry »
According to a recent policy brief by the Brookings Institution, improvements to the American educational system are essential to stimulating economic productivity at both the national and individual levels. While many are calling for government-led transformation of the US educational system, others aren’t waiting around for policy change. Instead, enterprising organizations such as the following are playing an active role in re-imagining learning.
1. The Blue School – A few years ago, the founders of the Blue Man Group were unsatisfied with the current private school offerings in NYC and created a new educational experience for their children and the city’s youths. Their school, The Blue School, provides an educational experience where students are not narrowly focused on college applications, but instead work on developing their creative, artistic, and cognitive skills. The children even have a hand in directing the curriculum, which attempts to integrate what children want to learn with what adults want to impart. Read the rest of this entry »
There has been a lot of recent innobuzz about crowd-sourcing and looking outside for innovation. Both techniques have their place in idea generation, but what about the people who know your products the best? You know, your employees. Now, I am not saying you need to launch an innovation center like Bayer is to come up with the next big idea (albeit if you can, go for it), but rather think about ways you can grow or enhance your business from within.
- Southwest Airlines: Southwest is using an idea management software tool to capture their employee’s ideas on improving and bettering processes. This web-based ideation tool allows employees in different geographic locations and of different levels to share ideas and work together to problem solve. Bringing internal minds together has enabled Southwest to improve internal processes and create efficiencies.
- Intuit: Intuit gives their employees 10% of unstructured time during their workweek (Google does something similar). During this time, Intuit employees are allowed to collaborate with others in order to develop new ideas. Viable products such as viewmypaycheck.intuit.com are results of such unstructured time. Read the rest of this entry »
I got off the Subway a stop early this morning to see a new installation in Bryant Park. The exhibit, Walk the Walk, consists of seven women all dressed in the same yellow dresses, walking around on an elevated yellow platform. The women shuffle around with indifference to their routine, expressionless with nowhere to go but around and around.
When I read first read about this exhibit in the New York Times, it made me think about how we often get stuck in our routine. It also made me think about how the practice of innovation pushes us outside these comfort zones. It’s not easy for most of us to step out of our day to day. Efficiency has been the way of the working world. (Although in some cases the act of efficiency is innovation.) Efficiency, however, does not afford us to take the time to ponder and explore the “what if’s”. Taking the time to do such exploration is not the obvious direct route to greener pastures.
There are simple things one can do to break out of the daily grind. Every once in a while I try to take a different route to work so that I can be exposed to new things; just doing something small can expose one to new possibilities. A lot of what we teach here at futurethink is about how to step out of our boxes, how to explore the seemingly impossible and escape the monotony of the day to day.
To better innovate, we must avoid being the woman in the yellow dress.