Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Doing" innovation: technique or org design?

I've been answering questions lately about how you "do" innovation and "voice of the customer." What are techniques? How do you gather data? Convert the data into new product ideas?

Those are interesting questions, certainly, but there are a lot of resources out there that present valid frameworks and approaches for doing innovation. The trick, of course, is to be able to apply a framework or approach to a real situation in the messy real world of new product development.

An equally interesting and important question, and one I don't hear much, is "How do you need to change the organization to support innovation," rather than focussing on the individuals? Personally, I think that's the harder challenge, since it requires more organizational change and can take managers out of their comfort zones.

Look, sometimes all you need to do to get individuals to innovate is to give them some tools and get out of the way. But setting up and organization that can catch the ideas generated by its employees can be a real challenge. That's the other side of the innovation equation, and the one that's less talked about.

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