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2011 Innovation Resolutions


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If 2010 was a little too “business as usual” for your taste, why not shake things up this year? This Cheat Sheet tool contains five exciting innovation resolutions to consider.

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2011 Innovation Resolutions

  1. 1. Page 1 Innovation Resolutions2011 Innovation ResolutionsIt’s the start of a new year. If 2010 was a little too “business as usual” for your taste, why not shake things up this year?If you are game for a more exciting year, the following are five innovation resolutions to consider:1. Pull a Tom Cruise, Engage in Some Risky Business “Innovation is all about taking a risk” is a phrase used often, but rarely acted upon or understood. Risk-taking flies straight in theface of an organization’s natural inclination to play it safe. The most common result is that organizations take very few chances andinnovation suffers. Managers in charge of innovation efforts have a real challenge when it comes to building a climate that iscomfortable with risk—everyone talks about it, but how exactly do you do it? The good news is that you can learn from today’sleading innovators and find out how to take better risks during innovation. They all take smart, not stupid, risks, and spread theirrisks over a range of projects (each with a different level of risk). The result is a basket of potential opportunities that, while there issome level of risk remaining, offer a sense of great reward as well.THINK ABOUT: How will you engage in some “smart” risky business this year?2. Ask KILLER QuestionsDo you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut and you keep hearing the same safe, obvious ideas over and over again? It could be aresult of the questions you are asking. Take a page from HP’s CTO Phil McKinney. He =popularized the notion of “killer questions”that force us to consider more disruptive changes to our business. In your next meeting, ask your team killer questions such as:“What if customers stopped using your product?”, “What if a competitor produced a product that was twice as good as yours andtwice as fast, what would you do?”; “What if the government banned some uses of your product?” Let team members explore allkinds of scenarios and see what the group comes up with.THINK ABOUT: What killer question would you love to ask about your business?3. Be a ProvocateurTaking people out of their comfort zone often leads to creative thinking and new ideas. The following are some ways you canstimulate the more provocative, creative side of your team and build a climate for innovation: Before your next meeting take all ofthe chairs out of the room and let the team determine how they can make themselves comfortable; make a day of ‘creative’communicating where no one is allowed to speak to each other in English, but they can use another language or write to oneanother; or, insist that for one week, no meeting can be longer than 15 minutes (and see if it forces everyone to get to the point).Whatever you decide, ensure that it makes everyone slightly uncomfortable. By shaking up the normal, new ideas can emerge.THINK ABOUT: How can you shake things up and drive creative thinking in your workplace?4. Be More Social (and Productive) at WorkNew enterprise-wide social media sites are taking businesses by storm. If you haven’t already, capitalize on the power of cloudcollaboration by encouraging use of sites such as Yammer, Blogtronix, and These sites enable companies to break-downsilos, allow for cross-collaboration, and can be used for posting challenges, questions, and up-to-date information. Your companycan become more intimate simply by utilizing an online destination for internal collaboration.THINK ABOUT: What type of social media would you like your company to try? Why?
  2. 2. Page 2 Innovation Resolutions5. Break Stupid RulesHow much time did you spend in 2010 making sure you were following the rules? Try breaking a few of them in 2011. Sometimesbreaking rules can lead to new ideas, greater productivity, and better internal processes. TD Bank, for example, encouragesemployees to kill stupid rules with its “Kill a Stupid Rule” program. Employees who suggest an alternative to a bad rule “thatimpedes TD Bank’s ability to wow!” are rewarded $50.THINK ABOUT: Which rules you would like to break and what are the benefits of making that happen?