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7 Ways to Get Innovation Right

It seems everywhere you look these days agencies are talking about the value of innovation. The need for innovation. The power of innovation. But taking the concept of innovation and making it a reality can be a big challenge, especially during the sequester.

But actually fostering innovation can be a huge challenge.

Seth Kahan. Kahan is the author of two books on innovation, Getting Innovation Right and Getting Change Right.

He was a keynote speaker at GovLoop’s Next Generation of Government Training Summit.

Kahan’s 7 key activities that lead to successful, sustained innovation.

  1. Be prepared. Leaders have done what needs to be done before they invest in innovation. They’ve done their homework.
    1. Pursue and leverage inflection points. 14 million iPads were sold in 2010. That was an inflection point in the printing world. It was decisive. If you know it is coming you can exploit disruption. If you are not getting hit broadside by it, you can figure out how to use the force to your advantage. Could we see the sequester coming for example? You could see the forces weren’t coming together to prevent it. The inflection point doesn’t have to make you happy. But if you see if coming you can marshal your resources forward.
    2. Leaders, who are really good, know where they are in the inflection point process. Once a leader knows where they are in the inflection point they can find out what to do next. Need a scalable infrastructure.
      1. Stop the drop. Might be putting in furloughs. Salary cuts. Reduce services that are not being fully utilized.
      2. Shift to ascent requires investment. You can make cuts and expect growth.
      3. Soar. Ask, how can we pump money into what is work?
  2. Build innovation capacity. Do things to make innovation possible long before it happens. Innovation is inherently stressful. Even if it is an improvement it takes more time than just doing day-to-day work. Often times people are tasked with innovation while also maintaining daily responsibilities. If you have to make a choice between daily activities or thinking of the future and innovating you will choose daily tasks. Leaders have to create a firewall. Innovation can’t compete with operations.
    1. Leadership – make time to meet other people who are innovating and learning. Need to educate yourself. Need to communicate. Become good at explaining what you are trying to do. Have to become adept at partnerships. Doesn’t happen in isolation. Doesn’t have to be a formal partnership.
    2. Talent – training people or bringing in new people who are good at what they do.
    3. Ideal management – ideas generally emerge half-cooked. Have to be fully matured. Has to be a process of maturing ideas. To the extent that you formalize it the better it is.
      1. Leaders have to allocate time dollars and people.
  3. Collect intelligence. Being aware of the information going on around you. Easier than before with technology.
    1. Market/environment
    2. Customers/beneficiaries
    3. Organizational capacity
  4. Shift Perspective, it is difficult to get outside your own head.
    1. Isolate steps in the value chain.
    2. Become your adversaries
    3. Seek out weak spots
    4. Look to creative deviants, somebody who is doing things differently but effectively.
  5. Exploit disruption. Leaders need to see disruptions of massive infusions of energy. There are four areas of disruptions.
    1. Customers/beneficiaries facing changes. 1. Need help. 2. Decision making qualities go down.
    2. Industries upending
    3. Competition fierce
    4. New business models
      1. Successful leaders try to figure out where these disruptions will affect them. They find their opportunity window.
  6. Generate value.
    1. New value (hardest one to do) have to re-tool everything.
    2. More value. Taking what you are doing now and giving more to the better you are serving.More quantity.
      1. Decrease the required investment and provide the same benefit.
      2. Keep the investment the same and provide a greater return.
      3. Decrease the required investment and provide greater returns.
    3. Better value. More quality.
      1. Increase impact by expanding or multiplying consequence.
      2. Intensify value by amplifying strength, power or potency.
      3. Extend application by offering a wider variety of users.
  7. Drive Innovation uptake. Help people get use out of the products you are giving them.
    1. Value Pulses – regular extension of value to the people you are serving. They can count on it. Make use of it.
    2. Value surges – take regular pulse and push a lot through it all at once.
    3. Value webs – start putting multiple things out that interact with one another. iPhone, apple computers for example.

“These 7 activities minimize risk. But risk is inherent to change, the only people that like change is a baby with a wet diaper,” said Kahan.

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Chuck Viator

This is a great post; IMHO, it’s truth and wisdom are unquestionable. It does however fly in the face of a culture that does not reward risk taking and likely as not punishes those who take a risk and fail and even they sometimes punish those who take a risk and succeed. The real commentary needs to address changing the culture of “Status quo”.