Simon Evans's Blog

Making Intranets and Innovation Work!

Innovation in the Web 2.0 Age

Can we see the wood for the trees?I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about Innovation and the factors that impact an organisation’s ability to innovate effectively. I am doing some work with Victor Newman of Knowledgeworks to illustrate concepts around “Open Innovation” by use of a game which we hope will be fun and also open up some very interesting conversations on this subject. So, I would be very very interested in any thoughts you may have on the nature of innovation in your organisations, now and looking to the future…

  • What things influence innovation?
  • Is innovation being stifled? Where are the blockages?
  • What really gets people’s creative juices flowing?

A few thoughts of mine to get the ball rolling…

What is Innovation? – It would be a good idea to get some common ground on this definition to begin with. A fairly standard dictionary definition might be:

“The successful exploitation of new ideas”

I quite like this as it covers both the creation of the idea in the first place and making it into something real – a followup that many of us are guilty of being very bad at – how many great ideas have you had that you don’t do anything with?

In my experience of working in large organisations and working with clients I have observed the following influences on innovation:

  • Personal thinking and “intellectual space” – If you are too busy – the day job and the hundreds of emails it brings leaves no thinking time
  • Management Environment – sometimes an overbearing management can squash individual thinking – “do it this way!”
  • Physical Space – this can have enormous impact (see Peopleware by DeMarco & Lister for many examples) – it is hard to have profound, business changing ideas in a noisy open plan office!
  • Relationships within the organisation – are you part of a lively group of people that spark off each other and drive idea creation forwards? Or are you on your own in a silo?
  • Knowledge creation – is this effective where you are? Do you have access to the knowledge of those who preceded you – can you “stand on the shoulders of giants” and create new knowledge from old?
  • Can your company spot the opportunities quickly? Do you know when you are onto a good thing? Can you act on them?
  • Do you have good collaborative networks in place?
  • Available tools – there are many tools around now that can help – instant messaging, desktop video, virtual networks (social and otherwise), Weblogs (like this one!) etc – what works for you?

What do you think? Do you have good examples of where innovation has flourished? Why did that happen? Have you seen innovation being stifled? Why?

Please contribute to the discussion and post some repsonses here. Thanks!

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Enigmaquest, Innovation | , , , , | Leave a comment