Inspire & Initiate

Inspire and Initiate The first imperative in Robert’s Rules of Innovation is to INSPIRE. Innovation and ideation is pointless without buy-in and support from top management. The leader of your New Product Development effort, your Innovation SWAT team, has to inspire, lead and drive the process. For inspiration to take place, the leader has to be regularly and personally involved so that everyone is on the same page. There are five key steps to achieve the type of Innovation culture that inspires and creates intra-organization cohesion. Discover more about INSPIRATION in the book, Robert’s Rules of Innovation .

Creating a Structured, Repeatable Process For Innovation

Established companies do not easily reinvent themselves.  History shows us that Innovation is often the strategy of startups – but not only is it important in getting to the top, innovation is necessary in order to stay on top. New talent, new techniques, and new products are all needed to stay abreast of the competition. In addition, having a champion within the organization is imperative. Innovation executives are often the facilitator of change, and the leaders responsible for the development of corporate innovation culture.

Recently McKinsey Quarterly published an article entitled, “The eight essentials of innovation,” by Marc de Jong, Nathan Marston, and Erik Roth. The article highlights a set of eight essential attributes from a survey of 300 companies that are present (either in part or in full) at every large company considered a high performer in product, process, or business-model innovation. The first four essentials help build the foundation for innovation. They are: Aspire, Choose, Discover, and Evolve. The next four ensure that innovation is not only successful, but repeatable as well. They are: Accelerate, Extend, Scale, and Mobilize.

The following is a quick summary of the first four attributes, with insight from the 10 imperatives laid out in “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”. You can read the full article published by McKinsey Here.

Whether it’s 8 essentials or 10 imperatives; having a structured and repeatable process from start to finish helps to ensure innovation is not only successful, it is repeatable and sustainable.


Aspire: According to De Jong, Marston, and Roth, “A far-reaching vision can be a compelling catalyst, provided it’s realistic enough to stimulate action today.”

Innovation and ideation is pointless without buy-in and support from top management, usually the CEO, who should acts as the chief innovation officer (CINO). As Robert Safian, editor of Fast Company says, “Inspiration Needs Execution”.  Define innovation so the entire organization is moving in the same direction. Quantify your goal, whether it’s a sales figure or number of new products you hope to achieve, and this will help justify the resources to be allocated.


Choose: “Since no one knows exactly where valuable innovations will emerge, and searching everywhere is impractical, executives must create some boundary conditions for the opportunity spaces they want to explore.”

While creativity and ideas can be found in numerous places and in numerous ways, how you manage them determines the viability of a product or process. Ideation should be harnessed by a process with dedicated resources, and with NPD and LTD teams working together.


Discover: “The insight-discovery process, which extends beyond a company’s boundaries to include insight-generating partnerships, is the lifeblood of innovation.”

Keep an eye on new technologies as they come along, but at the same time, you must be aware of your customer’s wants and needs. It isn’t enough to tell your customer what they want, sometimes you have to listen too.


Evolve: “Business-model innovations—which change the economics of the value chain, diversify profit streams, and/or modify delivery models—have always been a vital part of a strong innovation portfolio.”

According to Doblin’s “Ten Types of Innovation”, creating new products is only one way to innovate – and on its own, it provides the lowest return on investment and the least competitive advantage.


Accelerate: “There’s a balance to be maintained: bureaucracy must be held in check, yet the rush to market should not undermine the cross-functional collaboration, continuous learning cycles, and clear decision pathways that help enable innovation.” As the authors relay, Innovation must have the ability to move through an organization in a way that creates and maintains competitive advantage, without exposing a company to unnecessary risk.

Suffice to say that companies are not naturally inclined to try new approaches without clear evidence that those approaches are likely to work. However, without risk, there can be no innovation. An effective innovation leader should encourage well-reasoned creativity and risk taking, while also practicing tolerance for failure. Fail fast and fail cheap, the saying goes. In 2014 Amazon’s innovation efforts fell short; and sure, Fast Company might have put them in the penalty box, leaving them off the list of “the 50 most innovative companies in 2015″ – but Amazon’s place in the market is all but guarunteed. In fact, even with the kerfuffle, Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos are still a force to be reckoned with.


How would you answer the following questions in McKinsey’s Survey?



For more in-depth guidelines on how to promote innovation in your business, refer to Robert’s Rules of Innovation. Be sure to keep an eye out for the forthcoming Robert’s Rules of Innovation II, “The Art of Implementation.” 

Exponential Leadership and Innovation


“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

While there is no hard evidence to attribute the above quote to Henry Ford, there is no argument that he was a visionary of his time. He created something that consumers didn’t realize they needed, by making the automobile affordable. He disrupted the current model, and for a time monopolized market share.

No matter the origin of the above statement, business leaders of today are in a race against the clock to innovate faster than their competitors. Innovate or die, the adage goes. As I have mentioned before, there are some that suggest disruptive innovation is a competitive strategy for an “age seized by terror”. My response remains the same. Disruptive innovation is an argument against complacency, made more relevant by a landscape transformed by technology.

In late January, Big Think and Singularity University surveyed 1,283 US based executives about practices related to disruptive innovation. Using questions based on recent research in the field, respondents were asked to identify best practices for disruptive innovation, name a range of companies and leaders excelling these practices, and acknowledge which leadership traits & technologies have the most potential to disrupt businesses in the next five years.

The study is incredibly insightful and reflective, and is a must read for all executives doing business in today’s rapidly changing technological world.


Nearly every attempt at success is met with failures along the way, and properly managing those failures can actually benefit the Innovation process. Failure, therefore, must be tolerated.  Without that freedom to fail, your team’s collective courage to push the status quo will quickly evaporate and freeze your innovation efforts. So: “Fail fast and fail cheap.” Don’t get me wrong; striving for perfection, maintaining the highest of standards, and planning for the future are all very important. At the same time, don’t let the fear of failure immobilize your business either. As Andrew Stanton, Director of Finding Nemo puts it, “We’re gonna screw up, let’s just admit that. Let’s not be afraid of that.”


Another section of the study supports that organizations are executing important disruptive innovation practices, but need to embrace more data and external resources.

The term “Big Data” is nothing new – however, our ability to collect and use this data is growing at an exponential rate. Brands that seek to make deep connnections with their consumers, aim to make these connections personal, and personalization requires rich insights into individual needs, preferences and motivations. As Bob Zurek SVP of Products for Epsilon has pointed out, universities and colleges are starting to develop programs around big data, signifying a new crop of big data pioneers about to enter the workforce to help organizations harness the power of this information. “Big Data” isn’t limited to impacting customer relationships either. It can impact product development, operations, supply, and many other facets of your business.


“Among more established companies, respondents favored leaders who engaged in media and took big bets. Eight of the 10 most cited CEOs creating disruptive innovation had some involvement in media businesses even if their core business model lay elsewhere.”

Leaders must involve their entire organization in the vision of their company, and promote an honest and open climate to achieve a meaningful shared vision of the future. While disruption in innovation is needed, it is impossible to achieve without the right leadership. The leader of your innovation team has to inspire, lead, and drive the process.

How are you preparing for innovation and business model disruption?


To get results in Innovation, a structured, repeatable process is essential from start to finish. Look to all the imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation – but be sure you know how to implement them. Keep an eye out for Robert’s Rules of Innovation, volume II, coming soon!

The Exponential Leadership Survey 2015 was executed by Big Think and Singularity University.

Learn more Here.


Setting the stage for Innovation: Inspiration is rule number one.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

– Winston Churchill


You don’t need me to tell you why innovation is important. The Status Quo is boring, and no great fortune was ever built by playing it safe. To step out of the pack and escape the average and mundane, companies of tomorrow need to bring something new to the table. Peter Drucker once said that the purpose of a business enterprise is “to create a customer.”

When innovation efforts fail, the culprit is usually culture, or people-related issues. Inspiration and Ideation need to be driven by the CEO, who should acts as the chief innovation officer (CINO). Successful innovation facilitation requires patience, restraint, intelligence, and good-natured shepherding.

According to A.G Lafey and Ram Charan (co-authors of the book, The Game Changer: How every leader can drive everyday innovation), “innovation leaders have an entirely different set of skills, temperament, and psychology”. It is universally agreed that they must challenge the status quo, inspire, lead, and drive the process.

Past the personality and skill of your CINO, supporting the CEO in the drive to succeed in Innovation, all comes down to the Vision, Mission, and Strategy. All three need to be aligned with innovation.


Culture can enable or kill innovation. Define innovation so the entire organization is moving in the same direction. Quantify your goal, whether it’s a sales figure or number of new products you hope to achieve, and this will help justify the resources to be allocated. Every company has their own unique definition of innovation and how it pertains to their business. By defining your culture, you will help everyone in your organization understand the look and feel of innovative behavior, and how to work together to achieve it.


  • Create a Mission: to establish the foundation.

Communicate day-in and day-out what you expect from your team. Within the vision, identify where structures are needed to frame an innovator’s activities. For example, create monthly innovation days, or put together a fund to recognize innovative brainstorming. You can also create an identity, values, or brand for innovation; which will become the overarching theme for future initiatives, programs, and products.

Conversant is a powerhouse in the online advertising industry and they are dedicated to pushing the envelope. Innovation is built into the very foundation of how they run their business; and the message comes straight from their President and CEO, John Giuliani. Every corporate employee knows the 4 core values: Innovation, Ownership, Integrity, and Teamwork. “People are the primary differentiator for successful digital companies like ours. A corporate culture needs to unlock people’s potential and reflect the values a company believes will drive the business forward,” says Mr. Giuliani.


  • Engineer sustainability: with strategy.

Develop a structured repeatable process, or a standardized guideline for the new product development strategy that examines quality, capability, and capacity for managing projects. Once you’ve clearly defined the stages and tasks for the NPD process, stick to your strategic vision for sustainable Innovation. Due to the fact that innovation is not always immediately tangible, it is important to continually re-evaluate the role and adapt to change in order to stay relevant.
Other ways to inspire sustainable innovation: Get your teams fired up!  (From Michelle Greenwald)

o   Create and disseminate regularly scheduled newsletters; provide examples of relevant industry news & innovations from other competitors and industries.

o   Send employees to hear inspiring experts outside the firm, such as TED Talks, a relevant business summit, or by bringing successful innovators into the workplace.

o   Create a central repository that’s easily searchable, so employees know where and how to access the information. This could involve dedicating a room, and hiring a librarian or information curator, and/or creating a searchable, digital database.

o   Expand the profiles and work experience of new hires to bring in fresh thinking and unique views.

Innovation and ideation are pointless without buy-in from top management, and the support of your team; be sure to engage the senior leadership team, employees of organization, and key external stakeholders in the development of a shared vision and the path forward.


 You can learn more about creating and sustaining innovation by reading “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival”.  In 1876, H.M. Robert created “Robert’s Rules of Order” to use a system that brings about order from chaos in meetings (see Just like meetings, Innovation requires rules and order to succeed in Creating and Sustaining Innovation. Based on years of hands-on experience, research, surveys and numerous interviews with business leaders, Robert’s Rules of Innovation captures the imperatives to not just create, but most importantly sustain innovation.

How Does Your Company Match Up to the GE Innovation Barometer?


The GE Global Innovation Barometer conducts annual surveys to put a finger on the pulse of innovation around the world. The survey was conducted earlier this year with over 3,200 high level business executives from over 26 countries participating. The executives surveyed are those chiefly responsible for their company’s innovation development.   This year’s survey touched on 5 key points. It comes as no surprise that many of these points reiterate Robert’s Rules of Innovation®, the imperative on how to Create and Sustain Innovation.

Disruption Ready: Two-thirds polled believe that they must disrupt their internal processes in order to search for the “new kind of talents, technologies and partners”, they need for innovation success. What does this come down to?  Sometimes, you have to shake things up to create innovation.  Robert’s Rule of NO RISK NO INNOVATION reminds organizations to embrace the possibility of failure, and encourage well-reasoned risk taking. See Failure as a learning experience!

Champions of organizational Innovation must have, and encourage, a tolerance for failure and enthusiasm for risk taking. Risk requires investment (people, time, capital), and willingness to invest without ROI assurance.

Collaboration – In 2013 only 38% of executives felt that collaboration with other parties would be successful.  Many executives feared the backlash of collaboration concerning the protection of intellectual property.  However in 2014, 77% of innovation executives felt that the risk was worth taking.

OBSERVE AND MEASURE; Make sure objectives and reward systems are aligned to get the collaboration that is needed.

IDEA MANAGEMENT is about ideation, also known as the idea management process. Much of the focus of this imperative is how to break down silo’s and pack the front end of innovation with a ample ideas waiting in the hopper. Diverse internal teams fuel ideation, but companies should also consider breaking down the walls around their organization to co-create and collaborate with outside parties.

Big Data – 69% of executives that use “big data” feel that it adds value to the innovation process.  What gets measured gets done” in Robert’s Rules of Innovation OBSERVE AND MEASURE.

When creating innovation, it is vital to set metric goals and track these metrics. Observation and measurement – in terms of the performance of the program implementation needs to be built-in as a recurring element. Look for Leading and Lagging indicators, not just lagging!

Future Talent – The importance of talent is a priority among executives, up 6 points to 79% over last year.  INSPIRE AND INITIATE, one of Robert’s Rules of Innovation enforces the idea that management champions of innovation can create inspiring work environments.  Employers that inspire and initiate can retain current talent and will be attractive to future talent.  REWARD, Innovation is all about ROI but make sure employees get recognized and rewarded…

External Framework – This follows Robert’s Rules of Innovation – TRAINING AND COACHING. Innovation executives are often the facilitator of change, and the leaders responsible for the development of corporate innovation culture. These innovation leaders are accountable to assemble teams that will lead them to optimal ROI’s.

In addition to alleviating the amount of government red tape that hinders innovation, the barometer shows that executives also desire current and future business needs top be factored into current college curricula.


The GE Global Innovation Barometer measures many of the imperatives to Robert’s Rules of Innovation.  Without taking risks, successful innovation cannot be created or sustained.  Innovation leaders must inspire and initiate as a model for current employees to follow and so that future talent can be recruited.  Innovation must be observed and measured to track failures and successes.  Once a successful innovation process is in place, training and coaching becomes a critical factor of sustainable innovation.

You can learn more about the 10 imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation here. Robert Brands is the founder of and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, with Martin Kleinman, published by Wiley.

“Inciting Discovery, Inspiring Change” #CINONY

Earlier this month, Innovation Enterprise held a Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York City. The Summit brings together innovation leaders from a range of industries to “incite discovery, inspire change & facilitate a cross-pollination of ideas”. Panelists from some of the most innovative companies such as Pfizer, Disney, Sony, and NASA discussed innovation best practices, innovation metrics, and breakthrough strategies.

One topic discussed at the summit was The Premature Extinction of the Chief #Innovation Officer. The chief Innovation officer or CINO is the person who is primarily responsible for managing the process of innovation.

Innovation executives are often the facilitator of change, and the leaders responsible for the development of corporate innovation culture.

Although I am a firm believer that the CEO must take the role of Chief Innovation Officer, in large corporations, it pays to have a CINO that works and drives innovation on a daily basis. Due to the fact that innovation is not always immediately tangible, it is important to continually re-evaluate the role and adapt to change in order to stay relevant.

Every successful business leader knows that innovation in business is essential, but the best way to engineer and sustain it is not always clear.

During the summit Luis Solis, President of Imaginatik highlighted four essential steps/measures to fortify the CINO position. These steps not only affirm the 10 imperatives of innovation as outlined in Robert’s rules of Innovation, but strengthen my resolve that successful innovation requires many different elements to cross the finish line ahead of your competition.

According to Mr. Solis, the best way to ensure that the role of the CINO does not follow that of the CKO is by doing the following:

  • Make Innovation Imperative: Language is crucial. Innovation cannot be an option, it must be a priority.
  • Show the Impact of Innovation: Visible Indicators of success need not only be monetary, your return on innovation can be changes in speed to market, patents, shortened cycles, and other measures. Remember that what gets measured gets done. Look for Leading and Lagging indications of Innovations as written about before.
  • Investment in people and time:  Educate your CFO about investing in innovation, so that you can invest in the people and time needed to make innovation happen. Create a culture around innovation. Educate and inspire.
  • Secure Institutional Trust: Stakeholders in your business must understand that innovation is a shared win. Your corporate culture must also take into account that without risk, there can be no innovation. Use Failure as a Learning opportunity.

You can learn more about the 10 imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation here. Robert Brands is the founder of and the author of “Robert’s Rules of Innovation”: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival, with Martin Kleinman, published by Wiley.


Innovation: Starting with the Basics

Building a foundation for innovation starts with the basics. In Robert’s Rules of Innovation™ the imperatives to Create & Sustain “NEW” in Business, number one is Inspire and Initiate. Innovation and ideation are pointless without buy-in from top management, and the support of your team. Engage the senior leadership team, employees of organization, and key external stakeholders in the development of a shared vision and the path forward.

Do you have an innovation culture?  How do you quantify it?


One of the first steps to creating a solid foundation for innovation is to define the desired culture. Quantify your goal, whether it’s a sales figure or number of new products you hope to achieve, and this will help justify the resources to be allocated. Create a mantra like, “one new innovation idea a week”. Develop “core attributes” as in, attributes which will form the foundation on which your company functions and conducts itself.

What are the beliefs and practices that make your company, your company? What is the essence of your organization?

Once you set your innovation core attributes, it is easy to bring your team on board and empower your company to create successful, sustainable innovations. The common saying goes, “people support what they help to create”

Read More at :

Sustainable Innovation – Inspiration from a 7-year-old

Vision leads to the mission, from which is developed the strategy. Inject vibrant ideas, and stir in some climate and culture, process, and technology.

The result: Sustainable Innovation

About those vibrant ideas, where do they come from?

You can wait for that “divine spark,” or you can make it happen. Often the hardest part of generating new innovative ideas is knowing where and how to begin looking for them.


In the earliest days of our childhood, we spent a great amount of time creating and thinking up new ideas. We were continually building, imagining, and creating things; pillow forts, Lego buildings, kitchen snacks, and whatever else we could dream up using household supplies.

Somewhere along the way, our idea machine got a little rusty or maybe constraint by knowledge and believes. We forgot how to create like kids without boundaries. We entered the workforce where creativity and ideation are often kept in check. “It seems to be more common inside most workplaces for the work environment to undermine creativity, to kill it, rather than to stimulate it and keep it alive,” says Harvard Business School’s Teresa Amabile, co-author of “The Progress Principle.”

The first imperative of Roberts Rules of Innovation is INSPIRE. The leader of your innovation team has to inspire, lead, and drive the process.  For inspiration to take place, the leader has to be regularly and personally involved so that everyone is on the same page.  Along with vibrant ideas, setting a culture of innovation is a key ingredient in sustainable innovation. Develop it step-by-step by building consensus, reinforcing ideas, underscoring the need for accountability, and asking the right questions.

There are five key steps to achieve the culture that inspires and creates intra-organizational cohesion.


  • Lead By Example
  • Over communicate, under promise
  • Two-way traffic
  • Silo demolition
  • Pick the right champions


It doesn’t hurt to take a few notes on generating ideas from a 7 year old either.

Pratya was assigned the task of coming up with the 8th wonder of the world in school. She recorded her thought process on her blog, Tiger Monkey Forest with the help of her father.


She began with her mission: Come up with the 8th wonder of the world.

Her first step was logic modification: Following a straight line of logic, generate ideas that build on what is already known.

Palace  Rainbow Palace                      Castle  Made of glass


Then she added the Jump:  Generating ideas that combine different elements in new ways. Rather than thinking in a lateral fashion of “what comes next,” think “what could be”.

A floating city in the sky


She then brought in additional data and insight to solve a problem.

Sky + Asteroids that killed dinosaurs + Great Wall of China


The result:  Innovation, The great shield of earth!


Standard idea-generation techniques concentrate on combining or adapting existing ideas. This can certainly generate results, but sometimes you need to jump out of the box. Pratya chose think differently and consider new perspectives. While the great shield of earth will most likely never be become the 8th wonder of the world, I think you would agree that we could all benefit from seeing the world from a child’s perspective now and again. As adults we’re so busy taking life so seriously we don’t give enough thought to tapping into our inner child.

Go buy some Lego’s.


*To read more about the 5 key steps to workplace inspiration and ideation see “Robert’s Rules of Innovation” A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival.”


Innovation & Best Practices, Then & Now

Antarctica Thrives as Hub of New Thinking


Exactly 100 years ago December 17, an explorer found glory upon the Antarctic continent. One month later, his rival met a bitter, sad end. Yet, both share lessons in the power of innovation built on best practices – and the pitfalls borne of haste and poor planning.


Today, for those looking for rationales behind the need for innovation in pursuit of excellence, the race to the South Pole offers both cautionary tales and textbook examples of success and failure surrounding the innovation process for any business or mission.


Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Englishman Robert Falcon Scott shared a dream of being first to the South Pole. Though they both were able and famed explorers of their day, their tales revealed the power of intensive research, planning and best practices.


Yet where Scott decided to innovate on what he believed to be an ideal course of action, Amundsen – who, five years earlier, pioneered the Arctic’s Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific – studied best practices of a culture half a word from his destination. In September, National Geographic marked the centennial of their explorations .


Their examples of innovation range from the fine details to the mundane. Scott’s provisions, supplies and transport included 19 horses, 33 dogs as back-up, traditional wide-body sleds, and woolen clothing – all suited, or so he thought, to wintry exploration. To the contrary, each introduced inherent risk of failure. Horses’ hooves were ill-suited to trodding across snow and ice, which led to exhaustion in the harsh conditions. The wide sleds bogged down. Woolen wear soaked up human perspiration, which then froze to ice.


Amundsen, on the other hand, invested more than a year planning his journey. He painstakingly researched life lived in extreme conditions. He lived with Eskimos and modeled his outerwear on the furs they wore. He innovated upon modern sleds by making them longer and narrower so as to spread their weight across a greater length. Knowing extreme conditions likely would lead to attrition of his dog teams, he brought 53 sled dogs.


For mooring, he chose the Bay of Wales, or Ross Ice Shelf. Stationary for 80 years, it would provide the best shelter for his ship and base camp from strong winds. He built and provisioned three camps along the route. This way, his team would be lightened from carrying provisions the entire route. It’s a practice used by many explorers to this day.


On December 17, 1911, Amundsen made it to – and a month later returned safely from – the South Pole. A month later, Scott arrived at the Pole, only to find Amundsen had beaten him there. With his horses having perished or been shot along the route, Scott and his men began the return trek by foot. Ultimately, they, too, perished in a blizzard within miles from their own base camp.


Today, Antarctica remains a hub of innovation. Engineers are designing robots to navigate amid the extreme conditions. Architects who design living quarters used by scientists on the continent constantly are developing new buildings to withstand wind speeds topping 200 miles per hours and temperatures that can drop to 40 below zero.


This month, a three-man team from Thomson Reuters will drive its revolutionary Polar Vehicle – outfitted with bio-fuel, solar panels, and the latest in real-time GPS satellite communications and tracking. Staged to beat the Guinness World Record South Pole overland journey of two days, 21 hours and 21 minutes, the effort also will mark the centennial of Roald Amundsen’s achievement.


For those in search of innovation’s leading edge, it would seem Antarctica remains one of its final frontiers. One hundred years ago, Roald Amundsen realized – and Robert Falcon Scott lost his life to – the poles of innovation. Where Scott pursued his own vision of innovation, Amundsen followed well-modeled best practices as an imperative of smart innovation. In the end, he proved that innovating atop best practices maximizes the strengths of both.


For more information on Amundsen see:

Or Race to the South Pole

Follow Amundsen’s Daily Log 100 years ago:

Robert F. Brands


5 Tips to Innovate in 2012

Essential elements to get Innovation going


As the New Year approaches, it is the perfect time to reexamine the Innovation efforts for your organization. A strategy for sustainable innovation is key to any company’s survival, and if executed successfully, will lead to profitable growth and increased shareholder value.

With a new year and starting with a blank slate, it’s important to set your goals for 2012. What changes would you like to see within your organization? How do you plan on developing the next marketplace showstopper?

Here are some tips that will help guide the Innovation efforts.

  1. If you’re unsure where your company’s current innovation program stands, take the free innovation audit at The short audit gets you thinking about what elements can be bolstered, and the long audit gives a more detailed organization overview.
  2. Define the desired culture. Quantify your goal, whether it’s a sales figure or number of new products you hope to achieve, and this will help justify the resources to be allocated. Endorse a mantra like, “At Least One Innovation per Year.”
  3. Decide how you will recognize and reward successes along the way (and don’t forget to praise failures or learning experiences too!) Motivation is a powerful tool for the savvy innovation champion.
  4. Protect your intellectual property. If your organization doesn’t already have an IP lawyer, it is definitely time to consider appointing one. Intellectual property law protects your company’s most valuable asset – patents. With competitors eager to reverse engineer and copy marketplace innovations, patents are part of an offensive and defensive strategy.
  5. Develop a structured repeatable process, or a standardized guideline for the new product development strategy that examines quality, capability, and capacity for managing projects. Once you’ve clearly defined the stages and tasks for the NPD process, stick to your strategic vision for sustainable Innovation.

Watch 10 Imperatives to Innovate in 2012  :

Robert’s Rules of Innovation give 10 imperatives to create and sustain innovation. They are: Inspire, No Risk No Innovation, New Product Development Process, Ownership, Value Creation, Accountability, Training and Coaching, Idea Management, Observe and Measure, and Net Result Net Reward.

For more tips on how to apply each of the imperatives, see “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival.”

Innovation Democratization: How to Get the Most Out of Your Team

One of the first steps of achieving Innovation in the new product development process is to assemble a team. While the organization’s leader may be tempted to call in “the usual suspects”, people with a history of success in that field, it is important at this point to include fresh faces in the group. Dr. Harlan Weisman, chief science and technology officer of Medical Devices & Diagnostics at Johnson & Johnson suggests connecting people who wouldn’t normally work together* – people from different business groups, backgrounds, and skill sets. Creating a diverse environment of both men and women from different geographic regions, ethnic groups, age groups, and from a variety of functions will offer greater insight. This type of crowdsourcing opens the arena for new ideas within the organization.

After all, the path to Innovation is not always linear. It needs different perspectives working together to achieve the end goal. In fact, the greater the Innovation, the more necessary it is to include fresh perspectives. A team of “usual suspects”, experts in their field driven by past successes, may be able to take a product or service to the next level and create an incremental benefit. However, to create true ground-breaking “disruptive technology”, the process must start from a blank slate.

Once the Innovation champion assembles a team of diverse people from all levels and business backgrounds, it is key to establish trust. Only an environment that allows openness and risk-taking can produce favorable results. With the right amount of patience and shepherding, the Innovation leader can break down barriers and guide the conversation to allow for everybody’s input.

Here are some tips for the Innovation leader:

  1. Trust people before they earn your precious trust; and not make your trust contingent upon proving loyalty to your ideas alone.
  2. Devise a way to create a “safe haven” environment to coax the best out of the quieter members of the group; there will be those who have great ideas but will be reticent about piping up.
  3. Open dialogues and collaborative relationships with local business groups, suppliers, customers, and universities.

Democratization cuts across traditional methods and produces an environment ripe for Innovation. For more tips, *see “Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival.”