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Companies can enhance their employees’ creativity and boost innovation by learning from the Maker Movement’s emphasis on creative learning, collaboration, fluidity, and novel play.
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Mature companies often lack the vision and the commitment to fully commit to new technologies — even when consumers are ready for them. This leads firms to develop watered down products with limited capabilities and leaves them exposed to upstart competitors.
Employee satisfaction can be a double-edged sword. Satisfied employees produce higher quality-outputs and have less turnover. But satisfaction can inhibit innovation: People who are OK with the current way of doing business are not likely to transform it. They need to be aggravated enough with their current situation that they are willing to take the risks to change it. By sowing the right kinds of dissatisfaction, leaders can drive their organizations to higher levels of innovation and value.
The patent system and the standards system, which have together kindled a generation of unparalleled technological advancement, are being wrongly targeted as impediments to future progress. Public policies aimed at weakening the patent and standards systems risk stalling the pace of technological advancement.
A featured excerpt from Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World. Geoff Mulgan’s new book provides a guide to managing and optimizing collective intelligence. The five fundamental principles Mulgan outlines in this excerpt offer a nuanced answer to the question: “What is it, at the micro and macro levels, that allows collective intelligence to flower?”
When a corporate culture is designed not just to encourage innovation but to systematically nurture employee ideas, the results are dramatic: The companies that have the greatest level of participation have the best ideas. They’ve also got the strongest profit growth. All this stems from a culture that recognizes that effective innovations can come from anyone, at any level in the organization.
A wide range of evidence shows that U.S. research efforts are rising substantially, but at the same time, research productivity is sharply declining. Optimists hope for a fourth industrial revolution that will raise the bar again, while pessimists lament that most potential productivity growth has already occurred.
Collaborations between companies and universities are critical drivers of the innovation economy. As many corporations look to open innovation to augment their internal R&D efforts, universities have become essential partners. However, companies often struggle to establish and run university partnerships effectively.
Managers in manufacturing companies often keep process innovation activities tightly under wraps. Some companies have good reasons for keeping process innovations concealed. However, the authors’ research suggests that for most manufacturers, such defensiveness deprives companies of a valuable source of ideas for productivity improvement. Many manufacturers, they argue, can benefit from sharing process innovations rather than keeping them secret.
Creating innovative products and services that disrupt the status quo requires creativity, and creativity involves thinking differently about constraints. But too much of a “the rules don’t apply to us” attitude can lead to ethical crises. That’s what’s happened at Uber, where a string of controversies led to a mass exodus of executives, including the company’s president and CEO. Organizations intent on innovating need to understand ahead of time the consequences of breaking certain rules.
Innovation is an ongoing challenge for managers — so MIT SMR has combed through the archives to find 12 essential innovation insights, looking for older articles that today’s MIT SMR readers might have missed but that still retain wide relevance.
Finding the right metrics to track innovation is by no means straightforward. To steer clear of common mistakes, executives need a holistic perspective on their company’s innovation process.
In an interview with MIT SMR, Cardinal Health’s Brent Stutz describes how the company’s three-year-old innovation center, Fuse, uses a “fail fast and often” mindset toward innovation. “Our innovation process has three phases: explore, experiment, and then pilot. We have an opportunity to pull the plug at any time… I’m not afraid to try 42 things and only have six make it out the other end,” Stutz says.
The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.
Internal crowdsourcing, which seeks to channel the ideas and expertise of the company’s own employees, allows employees to interact dynamically with coworkers in other locations, propose new ideas, and suggest new directions to management. Because many large companies have pockets of expertise and knowledge scattered across different locations, harnessing the cognitive diversity within organizations can open up rich new sources of innovation.
Blockchain has recently taken center stage in the conversation about management’s digital makeover. Many believe the impact of blockchain on the ways organizations function and produce value may be greater than other technologies that have grabbed most of our recent attention — data and analytics, the cloud, even artificial intelligence.
Innovation, much like marketing and human resources, can be made less reliant on artful intuition by using information in new ways. But this requires a change in perspective: We need to view innovation not as the product of luck or extraordinary vision but as the result of a deliberate search process.
For Volvo Cars, pursuing digital innovation required fundamentally rethinking the organization, while also keeping the core business functioning efficiently. The company did so by balancing four interrelated competing concerns: (1) new and established innovation capabilities; (2) process and product focus; (3) external and internal collaboration; and (4) flexibility and control in relationships with external partners.
With investments in Big Data bearing fruit, what do executives expect from the future? A new survey finds that artificial intelligence and machine learning are rapidly emerging avenues for innovation — and disruption. Nearly half of senior executives surveyed, from companies like American Express, Disney, Ford Motors, and General Electric, see disruptive change coming fast.
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