At the core of the innovation process Chip and Dan Heath describe three main components:
a-Provide crystal-clear direction: I agree and think that ” Innovation is creativity with a purpose”. However setting smart goals is not that easy when it is about creating breakthrough thinking. Setting metrics for example, do you measure creativity by the number of big ideas produced ? or do you calculate the ROI of innovation by [Revenues from new products/R&D expenditure] ? For marketers using social media, is it by the number of followers or fans or clicks? I think trying to quantify creativity is killing it because you tend to see in data what you already know. I believe that projects managed with a clear relation to market needs have more chances to succeed than a pure creativity driven team without purpose.
b-Find the motivation: I already shared this in my previous posts: People should feel good, have intrinsic motivation, be empowered, confident, get acknowledgement and encouragement. Failures should also be accepted as part of the innovation process.
c- Clear the path: provide the best working environment and technology, automate what can be automated to have more time for creativity activities. I also think it is important to train people on how to listen effectively, use a couple of objective internal and external coaches to avoid prejudices, bias and groupthink.
Most companies won’t be as innovative as BestBuy who created a “ROWE” Result-Only-Working -Environment or Zappos but it helps to have a clear vision of what innovation means for the organization and communicate to all employees what are the expectations from the top management.