The Formula for Innovation

There is an undeniable connection between innovation and ideas, but ideas alone are insufficient for innovation.

“In most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there,” argues David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity. In other words, truly innovative organizations are the ones with mechanisms in place to identify the ideas that will set them apart from their competition.

But the recognition of good ideas still comes up short. It is also necessary to execute those ideas, and to do so without hesitation. One might think of the equation this way: ideas + recognition + execution = innovation.

Is your company poised to innovate in your specified field? If not, which component of the equation is holding you back?

The Art of Synthesis

We all appreciate experts. But one of the pitfalls of an expert is when he or she thinks deeply about only one narrow field of specialty. Of course, we need experts and masters. After all, it doesn’t matter what your brain surgeons’ golf handicap is; you need him to be good with a scalpel.

In the marketplace, however, a breadth of experience and the ability to think collaboratively are two essential ingredients to success. Synthesizing ideas is a prerequisite for innovations that matter, strategies that work, and products that ship. The word synthesis literarily means “one answer (-thesis) together (syn-) from multiple places.”

In centuries past, it was used in reference to the mixture of ingredients to form medicines. More recently, Steve Jobs got at the heart of it when he said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” Similarly, others have thought of synthesis in terms of “combinatorial creativity.”

How does your organization leverage a broad array of experiences and experts? How can you better employ the art of synthesis in your daily work?

Ask More, Give More

A recent Pew poll shows that an increasing number of workers are being asked to work more hours without additional benefit. In the short term, this simply seems to be the result of a lagging economy.  Indications suggest, however, that this trend may not recede when business starts booming again.

To the surprise of some, most Gen Y or Millennial workers (born 1980–2001) are primarily interested in non-monetary rewards and benefits. When asked to choose between more money and more vacation time, the majority opt for additional time off. Other non-traditional rewards included allowing work time to pursue an endeavor of their choice, dedicated time with mentorship and development coaches, and involvement with various social-good causes.

The company that will thrive in the future will be one that values both profitability and employee satisfaction as integral parts of its organizational culture.

Unified Not Uniform

The goal of branding is not rigid uniformity but beautiful, cohesive unity to produce emotional impact and lasting impression. As renowned designer Stefan Sagmeister has said, “In branding, sameness is overrated.”

Branding should not be treated like a monolithic logo design with stringent rules of use. Rather, when an organization is seen as an organism, laden with life and dynamism and motion and growth, its brand takes on a much deeper significance.

True brand identity should be holistic, connecting the heart and eyes and bones of an entity to its skin. Unity is far more powerful and freeing than uniformity, and your brand depends on it.