Saturday, September 01, 2007

Innovation…

2007 is a year of innovation for all of us at Avenuea A Razorfish. Not to say we are not innovative enough, but in 2007, we are going to rock the market place. I believe that, when you pull together the brightest of brains from around the world, you can do whatever you want in a given year. Since my meeting with my boss, I am busy thinking of a brand new innovative idea that our team can pull-off before anyone else in the company...

What is innovation?
As it is defined in most popular dictionaries innovation is simply an act of introducing something new. The idea of innovation is perceived by consumers as something totally new, and something that they haven’t seen, heard or thought-of. An innovation like a combustion engine can last for almost a century without any major modification while an innovation like NetFlix online service is no more considered a brilliant feet. Service sector innovations are short lived but nevertheless they are more profit making and attention grabbing. You would disagree on my opinion only if you have not heard of youtube, myspace, joost or facebook.

How do we get there?
One of the earliest ideologies of innovation was “It cannot be forced, it just happens”. I believe that, an innovative idea not only comes by chance, but can be invited in a carefully pampered and thought-out healthy working environment. Companies can provide infrastructure, model, resources and framework for people to develop innovative ideas.

Provide Framework
Innovative ideas come to people who are innovation aware. Awareness of popular thinking and day-to-day internet age innovations put seed of creative mash-ups in technology savvy working force to define innovative idea for own businesses. Companies shall provide employees with access to outside world during working hours even though some might feel it is improper use of company time. Google provides its employees certain amount of time per week to be spent on research of choice. Innovation breaths motivation and constructive criticism: ideas of employee shall be listened to too, talked about and criticized to get the best.

Idea/Conception… to Production Process
Numerous ideas go off everyday in your employee’s brains. Many of these original ideas come back to them when they see someone else doing the exact same thing and creating a buzz-word in market. One of the biggest challenges for employers today is to transfer these original ideas from their brains to a paper, email, whiteboard, or to any other format that can be digitally saved and shared with larger audiences.

To facilitate an innovative environment, companies need process. Every company can have its own process but here is a simple one I recommend.

  • Create an “Innovation Groomers” team that is responsible for grooming innovative ides.
  • Companies shall formalize a process for sending ideas to a centralized email inbox.
  • Every week these emails shall be read anonymously in Innovation Groomers forum. The Groomers’ forum shall listen to each idea and criticize it.
  • At the end of every two weeks the, Groomers shall hand pick one idea that they can put to work.
  • After an idea is picked employees shall be selected to work on making this idea a reality. This team is the “Innovation Builders”.
  • Innovation Builders shall put Proof-of-Concept together and provide feedback on feasibility and ability of company to execute the idea.
  • After every two weeks, the Innovation Builders (There will be numerous builder teams) shall provide input to the Groomers and other company executives.
  • You will come out with an innovative idea! But don’t stop, keep the wheel going and keep building a pool of talented people who can take your business to the next level.

I believe that providing the above framework can make innovation happen and I am going to make it happen as part of my 2007 company goal!

Salim Hemdani