The curly haired wunderkind… the savvy, creative pop diva… the bumbling geek whose IQ exceeds their vocabulary.
Now if we could just be one, hang out near one, or hire one everything will be OK. In the ‘innovate or die’ marketplace everyone is looking for the next big thing, or the next best big thing, a big someone who can come up with the next big thing. And sometimes that strategy may just work. But for the rest of us…
I will ignore markets for now (yet these principles can apply) and just concentrate on instilling new ideas into existing organisations. The creative process at the so-called ‘beginning’ of an innovation gets the spotlight as the wunderkind, diva or genius spins their magic and creates a great new thing that enthrals the world. Whether that insight delivers to expectations will depend in some part on the strength of the idea, product or innovation yet also on the organisation’s ability to develop, implement and drive adoption of the innovation. This is an organisational learning process. Some companies do it well, others not so well.
A simple but effective model for viewing this organisational learning process is the 4i model (Crossan, Lane and White, 1999). Its four stages include intuiting, interpreting, integrating and institutionalising ideas, innovations or learning into an organisation. At each stage different approaches are required for success.
Intuiting – this is the personal, creative and cognitive piece that kicks off an innovation. It could be an invention or just doing something similar but cheaper, better, faster. It could be a product or a process. Someone thinks this up, but rarely out of the blue, since creativity is usually the result of prolonged thought, not divine intervention.
Interpreting – Now here is the tricky bit. The creator has to develop and present the idea in a format that others can understand. So they may visualise, prototype, employ lean market-testing, samples, crowd-funding or personal chutzpah to not only convince others of the merit of this idea but also to support and even evangelise the concept. Winning hearts and minds at this stage is critical to any new idea’s journey.
Integration – the next test for our shiny new idea is the practical. Can it be implemented or integrated into existing product lines or processes? Will it complement or compete with existing procedures? Will people accept and adopt the new product or ways of doing things? Methods employed here include piloting and socialising the idea with new/existing processes to ensure that the innovation will in fact improve the status quo.
Institutionalisation – this final stage takes the innovation and embeds it into the fabric of the organisation so that it becomes part of the way things are done. This will require education, motivation and change programs with staff, partners and customers. It should include multiple feedback loops so that the organisation can measure, improve and learn from the implementation.
Each stage feeds forward and back and it evolves from individual to social learning approaches. It requires educating and motivating people and teams to act on the change. Too many good ideas in organisations die a slow death at stage two so developing the capability to not only create, but also demonstrate, new ideas is a critical innovation in itself.
If your fresh ideas are moribund, withering, defunct or just limping along please give me a call!