Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization. It will lead to new offerings that define categories and subcategories. It will lead to novel and effective ways to introduce and manage those categories and subcategories. It will allow existing brands mired in brand preference competition to break out. The question is not whether to be innovative, it is how.
The fact is that few firms come close to their innovation aspiration. A refreshing perspective on innovation appears in a new book, Look at More, by Andy Stefanovich. The overriding idea is that a firm and its people need to be inspired to look at more stuff and think about it harder continually finding new vantage points to view problems. He argues that success requires making innovation a priority, incorporating it into the culture and allocating time and resources to it. And innovation means not only generating relevant ideas but following up on those ideas. Too often they sit there, mold, and die.
Andy’s approach to organizational change provides a new look at organizational innovation and is based on the five M principles.
- Mood: The inspiration context that can be influenced by provocative questions, bold statements and purposeful disruption like when a Nike team gave a flower to random women and asked each why she might deserve such a gift. One learning was about the power of recognition to both parties.
- Mindset: Be willing to change perspectives, take risks, find a passion, and challenge assumptions. For example, the human library, where people with disparate backgrounds come together to provide content and perspective.
- Mechanisms: The tools and processes of creativity at work. Some involve finding new starting points by, for example, looking at the worst idea or looking at emotional or social needs.
- Measurement: Innovation measures such as the number of new ideas and resulting offerings in various phases should be supplemented by measures of the organizational mood, mindset, and momentum.
- Momentum: The active championing of celebrating inspiration and creativity to create a self-reinforcing cycle for growing innovation. The ability to not only continue incremental innovation but also substantial and transformational innovation is part of momentum.
Beth Comstock, the CMO at GE, captures Andy’s personality and approach: “Andy Stefanovich is a masterful storyteller and a true ‘curator of inspiration.’ Look At More gives you a dose of Andy’s adrenaline and creative can-do spirit, and it provides you with a powerful how-to guide for inspiring workplace innovation that lasts” To close with a typical provocative question we might here from Andy—What is inspiring you today?