Innovation lessons learned in 2006

A couple of weeks ago I announced that Chuck Frey was collecting “innovation lessons learned in 2006”. The Innovation Tools website already published the result, with almost 60 answers. Below you will find the most interesting ones (in my opinion):

Never forget the power of questions
Never forget the power of questions. In a recent interview Google CEO, Eric
Schmidt, said “We run the company by questions, not by answers.” Innovative
leaders put the emphasis on questioning, not telling. Ask fundamental, challenging questions and encourage others to do the same. For example: “What business are we in? Why do customers buy our services? What is our real added value? Is there a better way to do this?” The style and type of questions matter. Don’t ask aggressive, inquisitorial questions, such as: “What
went wrong? Why did you screw up?” Instead, ask broad questions, like these: “What lessons an we learn? What are the opportunities for us here?” (Paul Sloane)

Five rules for successful innovation

Successful business innovations that drive growth require:

  1. Vision to create new products, business models or processes that make a difference and create new markets
  2. Systematic processes and rigor that stimulate creativity and learning to execute on the vision
  3. Reward and recognition system for teams to take measured risks and experiment
  4. Focus on clear and present customer needs, the market facts, and the intangible
  5. Growth-oriented leadership that is decisive, inclusive, focused, takes risks, and has market expertise.

(Sanjay Dalal)

See the world from the customer’s point of view – before you innovate
The importance of doing primary research — wearing out shoe leather meeting with people face to face and observing them to learn (1) what they really need that’s not met by current offerings, (2) how exactly they’d use something that addressed that need, and (3) why no one is already offering something that meets that need. Things are the way they are for a (usually pretty good) reason and you’d better understand that reason before you try to bring about change through innovation. You can’t discover that by researching online or reading books or holing up in a lab or R&D department. You can’t even discover it by surveys or interviews. You have to see it for yourself, see the world from your potential customer’s point of view. People can’t tell you what they don’t know — you have to help them find out what they need, and then you can innovate. (Dave Pollard )

You can browse through all the entries here.