Innovation Creation, a community: process, tools, methodology, and people

Innovation creation....

Would you like to be "more innovative"? Has the pace of innovation at your company appeared to have slowed down? Do you have some ideas written down, but don't know where to go or what to do with them? Do you desire to know more about innovation?

Ok, what is innovation? I have come to the conclusion that this word means many things to many people. It is a word that is too broad to apply a single definition. For companies wanting to be "more innovative" there certainly needs to be a common definition so everyone can be on the same boat. But I am not going to define it for you. Take a look at the many books with various definitions and stories on innovation as an example of the word's breadth.

However, I will give you some themes around the word innovation:
  • new idea
  • useful
  • creative
  • changes something old to make something new
  • radical
  • incremental
  • growth
  • invention or inventing
  • unique
  • change
  • novel
  • improvement
  • breakthrough
  • improvement
  • revolution
  • discovery
  • brain storm
  • invention
  • originality
  • ingenuity
  • creativeness
  • vision
  • imagination
  • ingenuity
  • transformation
  • clever
  • improvement
  • ingeniousness
This list can go on but hopefully you get the idea. Innovation has many dimension.

So what is innovation creation? I'll address this with a set of questions.
  • Do you feel the pace of innovation is slowing down at your company?
  • I have an idea but I do not know what to do with it... Any thoughts on the next steps I might take?
  • I have a small prototype of an idea. But it is not very compelling. What can I do to improve the prototype?
  • I am looking for ideas for a specific industry. What can I use to help generate new ideas?
  • What type of tool works best to get ideas out of a group of quiet people?
  • There are lots of books out there on innovation. Which one would you recommend?
  • What types of activities can help groups become more "creative"?
  • What are the best metrics to put in place to see if our innovation pace is picking up or slowing down?
  • How can I build an innovation community at my company?
  • There are four or five commercial idea tracking or innovation process monitoring packages out there. What will work for our company?
  • What are some activities I can put in place to keep the innovation process alive and going at my company?
  • Do I have the "right" people on my innovation teams?
  • Where do I find innovative people?
  • I get "it" but my management is not interested in innovation... What can I do?
  • I have read all these books on innovation but I do not know how to get started. What can I do?
Some of these questions are asked everyday. Some people are able to find a solution that addresses a question or two. Many, however do not find suitable solutions and make do with the status quo or end up with a slower pace of innovation.

People struggle with how to learn about the innovation process and then how to apply it. Additionally, adults must make a serious efforts to adopt behavior that may not be perceived as "normal" (As an aside, read the first chapter of Orbiting the Giant Hairball).

The innovation process, tools, methods are not formally taught in standard college courses (though this is changing with places like the Institute of Design at Stanford, MIT's Technological Innovation & Entrepreneurship PhD, Duke's Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Indiana's Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation). There is a need to have access to a community that provides tools, processes, methods, and people to help you create new products and services. Innovation Creation is about creating this community.

Below are historical entries on my investigation of innovation. I started with the question Innovation in real life... Where is it, what does it look like?. This research base and the experience of practicing parts of the innovation process will be used to create a product to address many of the questions above. This product will not answer all of them but will provide a frame work on which to build solutions, approaches, and answers to many of them.


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