Must Read Post on Innovation from Blogging Innovation: Steve Shapiro of Innocentive on Three Distinctions of Innovation

(Happy belated Holidays to readers of the IP Asset Maximizer blog.  The dearth of postings on this blog lately is due not only to my hectic holiday schedule, but also the death of my aged Grandfather.  Thanks everyone for your patience–we’ll be up and running on a regular schedule after the New Year.)

I just came across this post from the Blogging Innovation blog, hosted by Braden Kelley.  (Anyone interested in innovation MUST subscribe to Braden’s blog.)  The post, entitled “Part 1:  Three Innovation Distinctions” is by Steve Shapiro of Innocentive, distills what innovation is down to words which are placed in counterbalance with the standard model of product and technology development.  Specifically, Steve contends that innovation is about:

  1. Challenges not Ideas
  2. Process not Events
  3. Diversity not Homogeneity

As I posted in a comment, I believe that this is a remarkably simple way to highlight the why many of the corporations, law firms and clients for whom I have worked over the years are currently or will soon be failed institutions.   Moreover, the 3 statements seem to transcend outside of the business world:  my husband is a professor at a Top 20 US university, and they operate using ideas, events and homogenity, even while they go around seeking “innovative ideas” from the faculty.  (Interestingly, the university thinks they are “diverse” because they are “liberal” in their hiring policies.  Nonetheless, once hired, most of these “diverse” people end up marching to the same drummer.)

Steve’s post goes onto elaborate on the first bullet point in this Part 1:  Challenges not Ideas.

About ideas, Steve says the issue is the “signal to noise” problem:

Organizations do not have a shortage of ideas. They have a shortage of good ideas that matter.  In innovation, the signal is comprised of the good ideas.  The useful ideas.  The ideas that can and will ultimately be implemented in such a way that they create value.  The noise is made up of all of the other ideas.  Useless suggestions.  Solutions to problems that don’t matter.  Ideas that will never come to fruition.

In contrast to ideas:

With challenges you assign owners, resources, evaluators, evaluation criteria, and funding up front. We know that the solution to a challenge will be relevant to the needs of the organization, so if a solution is found we know it will be valuable. Also, because of the nature of challenges, we have better tools to evaluate the amount of time spent on finding solutions. We can truly measure the ROI of each challenge and the overall challenge-based program.

There is much more to the post in regards to the ideas vs. challenges paradigm, and I invite you to read and let me know what you think.  (In later posts he will discuss the other 2 bullet points.)

Happy New Year!

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