Is there a formula to foster innovation?

by Gemma Maidment on 25 August 2011

With the departure of Steve Jobs as CEO from Apple, it really got me thinking – is one great, influential and visionary mind at the helm of an organisation what it comes down to for a company to really foster innovation? Are these people 1 in a million or is it a skill that can be learnt? How can you replicate the level of creativity, brand identity and forward thinking required on your own scale and in your own situations?

Well as a lover of strategy & innovation (which I gained at university and yes it’s a bit sad to admit to it) I’ve collected a few ideas over the years of what is needed to create a structure, in the loosest of terms that would foster innovation. It’s all down to amelting-pot of culture, balance of personalities, and the physical set-up of a business and its processes that help or hinder innovation. Other factors such as remembering that great ideas can come from anywhere is also really important.

I would continue but I stumbled across a fantastic interview with Pixar’s Brad Bird on Fostering Innovation, which really says it all so here are a few of the best to get your juices flowing but I really do suggest you read the full interview when you get the chance!

  1. Herd your black sheep (in other words, gather together all those disruptive or unsettled employees into one place, they are probably frustrated because they see things differently – perfect for innovation!)
  2. Perfect is the enemy (because you need room for experimenting and not worrying about it being 100% perfect all the time)
  3. Interaction = Innovation (so get your employees interacting on a day to day basis by any means possible)
  4. Encourage inter-disciplinary learning (we have skill swap days, expand the mind and encourage different thoughts)

What do you think? Does your company have any great initiatives for fostering innovation? Let us know! I am currently working on a strategy for this in line with our new business and offices so any success or failure stories would be really appreciated.

Picture of Pixar’s Feature Film Ratatouille (photo credit: IMDb) created by the Academy Award Winning Brad Bird reminds us that a great chef could come from anywhere, and so can innovation.

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