Monday, October 29, 2007

Innovation from a Hospital Bed

So many times we try to be innovative sitting in our office chairs. We sit there . . . and we sit . . . and we sit some more. Somehow we are sure that if we sit long enough, talk fast enough, and think hard enough that the amazing ideas will flow.

Paul Bennett, a designer from Ideo, shares another perspective in this video. Here's how it goes - get out of your chair and get into the shoes of your audience. In this video he talks about design solutions for big problems. The thing that stood out to me and was so exciting was that they searched for solutions by becoming the recipient. So when asked to study the customer experience in a hospital, their staff layed in a hospital bed and videoed the ceiling!

What a concept. But innovation is proven when you get out of your chair and jump into the shoes of those who are in need of a solution. Watch the video and then think about how you can put yourself in the place of those who recieve your services or who give to your causes. How will that change how you communicate to them, connect with them, engage them?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Innovation on a Friday???

Fridays are tough. Its the end of the work week and we are all ready to move on to something else. Usually we have fought our battles, we have pushed through on deadines, we have made our presentations and we are ready for a rest.

But I think we are missing something. Friday is also a great INNOVATION DAY! Why is that? Well think about it. Friday is the culmination of a whole week's worth of lessons, ideas, failures, brainstroms, etc. It is the synthesis day when a new idea is very likely to come together.

In fact, because Friday is a bit more laid back there is even more of a chance it can be a condiut for innovation. Many people have casual dress on Fridays. Most people are feeling a bit more light hearted.

The tightly wound work world has taken a breath.

If you harness it, that moment can be a powerful force of innvation. At HCJB Global we have worked on this in our Communciations Team. On Fridays we do 2 things:
1. We hold our team meeting to review the week, brainstorm and plot out the next.
2. We have 2-3 hours of learning time every Friday Afternoon where everyone in the team is working on some sort of learning activity.

These two simple things are producing exciting results. We are coming up with new ideas and then are ready to use them as we jump into the next week.

So many people write off Friday's from a productivity standpoint, but if you position them right, they can be your main force for innovation!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Innovation Shrunk

In a recent Fast Company blog posting, they were talking about Walmart's announcement that they achieved their goal to sell 100 million energy-saving light bulbs. They did it with a bunch of fan fare - why? Very simple. Each bulb had a positive impact on the environment, and their ability to sell so many of them meant that they were creating real environmental impact.

You see, the small thing has huge impact on the larger ecosystem. That is the same in our organizations. By innovating in the smallest ways you can cause big change. Simply by changing the layout of the cubicles, redoing your office schedule, creating some innovative staff interactions, etc.

So don't be intimidated that innovation requires something as huge as the invention of the lightbulb - it can be as small as selling the environmentally friendly ones.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Innovation Insight

Recently I was at a conference where we did some team activities. One of the activities really shows impact of assumptions. The leader of the excercise gave four groups of four people a card with an assignment. All he said was, "Each of you represent an office and you must answer the question on your card." He also said that the team that finished fastest would get the largest bonus.

Each of the offices jumped into their task with excitement. But as each group looked at their cards, the question was not answerable - we didn't have all the information. But because we thought we were competing for bonuses, we did not even think to ask any other office.

Well, lesson learned, the answer to our question was on the card of another office and the same was true for each office. The lesson: any space at all (even only a few feet) creates seperation.

Innovation requires that we break down walls of seperation. This is hard because we put them up everywhere we go and we struggle to think about our world in collaboration. But that is the only way we can do innovative thinking in the nonprofit world. Because we lack resources of major corporations, we have to use the resources at our disposal - our networks, friendships, partners.