Books Slideshow: Why Good Innovation Goes Bad

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 08-26-2010

Reality check

All companies begin as 100 percent innovation. And then it all goes downhill.

Reality check

Why is this?

A start-up is defined by innovation. As the company grows and focuses on profits, ongoing "performance" is valued over innovation because the latter always involves risk.

Why is this?

So, we break all the rules

No. A "break all the rules" approach to innovation involves fighting the "performance" dynamic. Successful CIOs innovate by partnering with the performance engine, not dismissing it.

So, we break all the rules

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

1. Know that successful innovation is not all about ideas. It's about the implementation of ideas. Generating ideas is fun. Execution is hard work.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

2. Innovation is about motivation. Your IT teams won't put in the sweat equity needed for innovation unless reward models are clear.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

3. Divide teams into "dedicated" innovators and "shared-staff" innovators. The dedicated team works exclusively on innovation. The shared-staff team works on innovation part time while also maintaining ongoing operations.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

4. Make it clear that "dedicated" and "shared" members are equally valued. Dedicated team members focus strictly on developing innovation. You need those shared members, who also provide support such as marketing, administration, finance, to make it work.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

5. Avoid overlapping skillsets. Consider the characters in the film Oceans 11: There's an "explosives guru," a "tech whiz," and a designated "acrobat." Defining skills makes individual roles clear.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

6. Provide new and unfamiliar titles for your dedicated-team staff. That way, they won't feel confined to the roles assigned to pre-existing titles.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

7. Create a separate physical space for the dedicated team. This reduces the likelihood that any of them will be derailed by performance-engine management duties or putting out day-to-day fires.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

8. Don't rely strictly on internal staff. It's tempting to "reward" solely from within. Exclusively focusing on insiders too often results in settling for less than needed skills.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

9. Don't overcommit to the original plan. Too often, innovation teams interpret straying from the original plan as a failure. Empower your team to move in a new direction as soon as evidence suggests that it's wise to do so.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation

10. Embrace the uncomfortable. Innovation isn't a familiar, well-traveled path. Your team will express elation, enthusiasm, confusion, resistance - sometimes all in the same day. With a clear vision, comfort levels increase as success becomes tangible.

Ten Steps for Successful Innovation