Innovation Strategy

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“Diverge Before You Converge”: Tips for Creative Brainstorming

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A new integrative process for idea generation uses approaches drawn from education, business model design and more, and breaks down the process of creativity into seven distinct steps. One of the most intriguing steps is number five, “diverge before you converge.” The idea behind it is that the most effective brainstorming processes draw from both individual thinking and group discussion, with individuals coming together only after independent idea generation.

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The Discipline of Creativity

Managers can’t afford to rely on haphazard, hit-or-miss approaches to idea generation. Ideas must fit with an organization’s strategy or take it in a new, purposeful direction, and they must solve real problems for stakeholders. A new seven-step process for idea generation is designed to help managers understand their problems deeply, generate tangible ideas for solutions and translate those ideas into action.

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Spurring Innovation Through Competitions

Alan MacCormack, Fiona Murray and Erika Wagner examine the phenomenon of corporations using innovation contests to attract ideas from beyond their organizations. They write that companies increasingly “are discovering that many of the very best ideas lie outside their organizations, in an ecosystem of potential innovators who possess wide-ranging skills and knowledge.”

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Innovation Process Benefits: The Journey as Reward

What motivates volunteers to take part in innovation projects? And how can companies that sponsor such projects better attract individuals from outside the organization to participate? Christina Raasch and Eric von Hippel investigate the ways that individuals can gain significant benefits from participating in an innovation process — and the implications of that for organizations.

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How Innovative Is Your Company’s Culture?

Everyone wants an innovative corporate culture, but how do you develop one? This article posits that the ability of a culture to support innovation depends on six key building blocks: values, behaviors, climate, resources, processes and success. The article also includes a 54-element test developed to enable managers to assess a company’s “Innovation Quotient.” A case study in the article outlines the experience of a Latin American company with the assessment tool.

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The Inside and Outside View of Innovation

How can companies ensure that a promising initiative receives the necessary resources? And why do so many brilliant inventions fail while other seemingly mediocre offerings succeed? Such questions are addressed in two recent books — Unrelenting Innovation: How to Build a Culture for Market Dominance by Gerard J. Tellis and The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation by Ron Adner. The first book concentrates on a company’s internal workings, while the latter focuses on its external environment.

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How to Use Analogies to Introduce New Ideas

While change and innovation clearly produce much of the turbulence that besets modern businesses, research suggests that change itself is not the culprit, but rather how organizations perceive and cope with change. Both people and organizations rely on analogies to help them comprehend change, including the meaning and potential of new technologies, systems and processes. But do all analogies function in the same way? How strongly should organizations adhere to their chosen analogies?

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How to Identify World-Changing Innovation

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Anyone trying to figure out which kinds of innovation are most worth paying attention to has to come up with ways to, as Wired magazine puts it, “size up ideas and separate the truly world-changing from the merely interesting.” Here are seven things to look for.

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Developing an optimal innovation strategy

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If one innovation approach is helpful, you might think using more than one approach to innovation would be even more productive. Not necessarily, write Frank T. Rothaermel and Andrew M. Hess in the new issue of Business Insight, MIT Sloan Management Review’s collaboration with The Wall Street Journal.

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