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Thursday, December 24, 2009

HBR: Understanding Innovation

Happy Holidays to all!

SECOND POST: Harvard Business Review (December 2009) will be reviewed this week.

The Innovator’s DNA (Dyer, Gergersen and Christensen). The authors tried to answer the questions: “How do I find innovative people for my organization? And how can I become more innovative myself?” To do this the authors launched a six-year study of creative entrepreneurs. They surveyed over 3,000 entrepreneurial executives and over 500 people who had started innovative companies. In addition, they studied 25 of the country’s leading entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell and a host of other creative luminaries. Here’s the skills they found such innovators possessed:

1. Associating: Creativity is often about connecting two, seemingly unconnected things. Think Reese’s pieces! Steve Jobs has been quoted: “Creativity is connecting things.”

2. Questioning: The venerable management Buddha, Peter Drucker, put it best: “The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question.” The authors suggest asking Why, Why not and What if. They also suggest imaging opposites and embracing constraints.

3. Observing: “Innovators carefully, intentionally, and consistently look out for small behavioral details—in the activities of customers, suppliers, and other companies…” to get to new ways of doing things that lead the market.

4. Experimenting: Innovative leaders encourage their employees to take the road less traveled….to try out a side street to see where it takes them. They create an experimental culture, where it’s OK to try and fail…which leads to things like 3-M's Post-It notes!

5. Networking: Innovative leaders network with people from different domains to get maximum leverage as they create new products. The visit other parts of the country, other countries and attend conferences to find fertile ground for their inventions.

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