Monday, 15 July 2013

A culture of innovation

As I said in a previous post (Post it notes, post it notes everywhere), I've been researching 'how we create and innovate', and in a few bursts last week, I've done a first attempt of pulling some information together. I found loads of really interesting things, from articles to images and videos. From what I found, there are some key themes, which I'll outline over the next few posts, and I'll focus in this post on culture.

There were a lot of examples of a desire to be innovative being built into the culture of organisations. A really good example was the Met Office, which outlined these six conditions for innovation:
  • A working environment that encourages informal collaboration and the sharing of ideas
  • A way for staff to share and build their ideas with other staff and managers
  • The opportunity and support to work on new ideas unrelated to their day jobs within the working day
  • Encouraging behaviours that give ideas a chance to grow rather than killing them too soon
  • Encouraging staff to constructively challenge the way things are done, and take the initiative in finding better ways
  • Developing an understanding of how to tap into the creative abilities we all have, but many of us have forgotten to use effectively
This gives a clear summary of the importance that the Met Office places on innovation, but it also describes the kind of conditions that are required in order for innovation to happen.

An example of how innovation fits into how a company works is Nike. Their approach to innovation is described in the linked article as "just mucking about and having fun...a messy, exhausting process culled from myriad options and countless failures". The following video, from inside Nike's Innovation Kitchen, gives a bit of an insight into their innovation process.

What I found really interesting about this video is how the innovation was shaped by a response to a particular need, rather than it being an idea that came from nowhere. What was also really powerful was that the innovation belonged to the collective, and that once a team had created Hyperfuse, others were encouraged to start using this technology in their own projects. I'll return to these themes in a future blog post.

My next post will look at physical spaces for innovation, and how companies create environments in which their employees can innovate.