Innovate the Way You Innovate

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the ability to innovate is not enough. You need to innovate efficiently, quickly, and with less risk. Tradition innovation methods, such as asking employees or customers for ideas, have proven to be a bad idea. Instead of “thinking outside the box” you want to define a better box. This article describes a five-step process that will help you accelerate the way you innovate. You will learn how to ask the right question, the right way, to the right people, in the right way, while implementing through experimentation.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded spewing 180 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf Coast of the United States. After several failed attempts to stop the flow of oil, the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command turned to a technique used by many organizations when looking to innovate: crowdsourcing. They established a website where concerned citizens could submit ideas on how to stop the flow of oil. It is reported that they received nearly 123,000 submissions. On the surface, this might sound like a huge success. People were clearly engaged. But out of all of these ideas, only a dozen or so were deemed as having any value. This means that 99.99 percent were duds. The amount of energy required to submit and process this many bad ideas is massive.

A major UK bank tried a similar approach, asking their employees for suggestions on how to improve the business. Although they received several thousand ideas, none were implemented, and the entire innovation team was sacked. A well-known software company used the same strategy, hoping for different results. After receiving over 10,000 ideas yet only implementing two, the program was shut down.

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