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Ten Ways to get Fired While Innovating

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By Connie Harryman, Applied Concepts Creativity
Guest Blogger IIR USA

LIVE Front End of Innovation Europe 2010

Speaker: Scott Anthony: Author, The Silver Lining An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times
Topic: Seizing the Silver Lining

In telecommunications it is about that last mile for success. The same is true for innovation in looking at that first mile.

Here are ten reasons that will get you fired.

1.) When the discount rate turns to infinity. Innovation needs some short term returns.
2.) When you have the thousand monkey problem. If you give them all typewriters will you get War and Peace or defecation and broken keys?
3.) You must recognize, that if this is new to me but known to world then you must tap into that knowledge. Do not do strategy and then allocate resources. If you look at slack then you can tell a company's strategy. The best innovation teams are small and focused.
4.) You get swarmed by zombie projects. You wish could innovate more but you do not have the money or the bodies. People are working on the wrong things. Your company is fractionalized and working on dead projects. Your capacity gets strained.
5.) You engage in the Raider's of the Lost Ark problem. Inside a lot of companies, if a project fails, it is put in box or closet and never spoken of again. It may fail through no fault of our own. It requires deep cultural change to learn from failure.
6.) You have the curse of abundance. During the early stage of an idea, the questions begin about competitors, market demand, etc. This results in gathering more data, doing more analysis, and more tests, before the project goes forward. Abundance is an inhibitor of innovation.
7.) You are in the Land of Misfit Toys. You empower a leader to go build new teams. They need people and get the people who are not busy and whom no one else wants. Think carefully about the team you assemble.
8.) You get hung upon Fitzgerald failures. Senior leaders must think about operational excellence. Leaders must hold opposed ideas in their mind at the same time. Senior leaders use their old mind set and do not make good decisions.
9.) Educate leaders to ask right questions and borrow selectively from the core business. He gave the example of Microsoft, which had the ability to do Google type service, but was concerned about product cannibalism.
10.) Be careful of the wolf in sheep's clothing -- friends can be your enemies.

Scott Anthony summarized with these recommendations:

1. Be relentless in looking outside where you will find new ideas and capabilities. Collaborate and involve people from outside your market.
2. Allow for an innovation minor league. Draft young people and immediately bring them in to the big leagues. Use them to test ideas.
3. Constrain like crazy.
4. Work on the collective innovation muscles. Read HBR The Innovative DNA.

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