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  • Innovate On Purpose

    Can innovation be managed? We tend to think of creativity as something unpredictable. But do we have to wait for a muse to arrive for us to have a breakthrough idea? Is innovation purely accidental or happenstance?

    Can innovation be managed?

    You may remember my interview with Space Shuttle chief engineer Mark Fox. During our conversation, Mark discussed a common belief that

    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    puts creativity in a stranglehold in almost everyone. We tend to think of creativity as something unpredictable; it comes like a lightning bolt and disappears just as quickly.

    But do we have to wait for a muse to arrive for us to have a breakthrough idea? Is innovation purely accidental or happenstance?

    Vijay Govindarajan, managing partners at Creative Realities, Inc., an innovation management group, says the answer is an emphatic “NO.” In his most recent Harvard Business Review article he lists nine factors that greatly increase the likelihood that your organization will be a hotbed for innovative thinking.

    The article is  set up almost as a quiz in which you rank yourself to see whether outside-the-box thinking is promoted or stifled in your organization.

    Rather than list all the factors (you’ll have to read the article to find out what they are and how well you’re doing), I want to react to a couple of the points Govindarajan makes.

    The Need

    In order for innovation to be more than an occasional accident, your staff needs to see the value of creativity. If everyone is coming to work to do things the same way they’ve always been done, you probably won’t see much originality.

    Are your employees content with the status quo? Is anyone looking for unique ways to improve systems and processes?

    Instill in your colleagues and subordinates the need for innovation at every level. Anyone can bring forth an idea that might change the company’s future for the better.

    Flexibility vs. Performance

    Breakthroughs cannot happen inside the performance engine — it is built for efficiency, not for innovation.”

    With that in mind, Govindarajan suggests that management create a team specifically tasked innovation, and for room to be created for that team to experiment with new ideas.

    Sounds like an innovative idea in itself!

    Get the creativity flowing in your business by taking Govindarajan’s self-evaluation. Read “Innovation’s Nine Critical Success Factors” to learn more.

    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Management

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    About the Author: Donnie Bryant is a direct response copywriter and marketing consultant. He specializes in improving businesses' sales and profitability by creating compelling marketing messages and strategies. Find out more about Donnie at http://donnie-bryant.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @donniebryant and connect with him on Google Plus at +donniebryant.

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