- We need to synergize!
- There there is no i in teamwork!
- We have to work smarter-not harder!
Like cliches, these phrases have a foundation of truth: there’s nothing wrong with synergy and teamwork and working smarter. The problem is that the phrases become thoughtless short-hand for complex processes that actually require attention and discipline. In the area of innovation the worst corporate-speak offender is “We have to think/step/get out of the box”. Again, there’s nothing wrong with the basic sentiment, but if you’ve ever been involved in a brainstorming session that ran out of energy and ideas within 15 minutes of marker-hitting-flipchart then you know that it is easier said then done.
The title Innovation in a Box is an obvious provocation, but it recognizes a couple of, uhhh, boxy things about innovation:
- Innovation = idea-realization, not just idea-generation. In other words, until an idea is “boxed” and delivered to a client, it has little value.
- Innovation is a discipline, and there are tools that we can use to help us become more effective. Tools…like in a tool-box.
- There are good reasons that most people and organizations find it difficult to step out of their boxes – the primary one being that being “in their boxes” has served them well in the past. This one ties into thinking-preferences, culture, focus…
The three points are connected. If our goal is to enable individuals, teams and organizations to be more effective at Innovation, then we need to provide them with the knowledge, tools and skills necessary to identify, generate and implement solutions by building on their existing strengths. This blog, the Innovation in a Box Graphic Guide (see below), and the In a Box Program are all designed to do this.
We’ll build on these three ideas in greater detail over the next several blog-posts.
Innovation of the Day
Also, new to this post is a feature called “Innovation of the Day”. It’s based on the belief that there are very few areas of our lives that would not benefit by innovation and better design. Today’s example is the humble pick-axe. I’m in the midst of landscaping my back garden, and have been using an old-pickaxe to loosen up the ground. Although it has a definite nostalgic appeal, it’s certainly not ergonomic – hard on the back and jarring on the joints. This sketch is a quick concept drawing and if you happen to be in the tool business feel free to build it. I would appreciate it if you sent me a prototype however, because this promises to be a multi year project.
Enjoy your day!