8 Assumptions and 8 Questions about Innovation

Even the staid British publication The Economist recently claimed, “Innovation is now recognized as the single most important ingredient in any modern economy.” 
(Tom Kelley:  The Ten Faces of Innovation)


For the SMU Cox School of Business – Business Leadership Center, I recently presented my new session on innovation:  Adaptation, Exaptation, Innovation:  Processes and Environments That Invite Successful Innovation.

I quote from many books that discuss creativity and innovation, including books by Tom Kelley, Steven Johnson, Gary Hamel, Twyla Tharp, Bernd Schmitt, and Roger Martin, among others.  As I developed the material, I stole/borrowed/compiled/wrote eight assumptions about our current situation, and asked 8 questions…  Here are the assumptions and questions:

 • 8 Assumptions:

1)    What worked yesterday will not work as well tomorrow
2)    Someone is trying – now! — to leave you in the dust
3)    Everyone; every product; every process…can get better
4)    Creativity, as a habit, can be developed
5)    Innovation, as a practice, can be achieved
6)    It takes time, training, effort to be creative, and to be innovative
7)    It is far better (it works best) to be innovative “together”
8)    Innovation is a habit/a discipline/a routine – in other words, it needs constant attention and focus…  always

• 8 Questions for the Innovator:

1)    What are we doing now that could be done better tomorrow?  (hint – practically everything)
2)    What could we learn from a totally unexpected source/field/discipline?
• how could we take some “field trips” – how could we open our eyes a little wider?
3)    What could we learn from the best within our industry?
4)    What could we learn from the worst in our industry (what should we never do?)
5)    Where are our bottlenecks – how are we killing good ideas?
6)    Where are our records – that is, where are we recording all of our possible good ideas?  (Where are we losing our good ideas?)
7)    Where do people experience hassles, of any kind, in their interactions with us?  How can we get rid of these hassles?
8)    And – what could go wrong?  (Beware of the problem of unintended consequences. – Consider the parable of the “free refill”).

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