Pushing aside fear to reach innovation

Merryl Macleod October 28, 2015 Digital Strategy, Improvement

Trying to create an innovating office can result in finding nothing but a long and winding trail of buzzwords and redundant terminology. It can be confusing and intimidating, with the fear of failure looming above.

I think starting simple is the best path.

Making explicit the parameters and goals of an innovation program are vital. I’ve found few explain the innovation pathway better than the Director of Marketing at LEGO’s Future Lab, David Gram, who sets out four key elements to develop an effective innovation environment.

The four key elements are simple and practical. Starting with these, you should be able to identify even a small number of minor innovations that over time can make a major change to the way your business operates. Pointing to a Eureka moment is easy in hindsight but they only happen by building up and fostering an innovative atmosphere.

Part of that atmosphere, and this is essential, is accepting or even embracing failure. Microsoft’s Joined Up Innovation Report, Culturing Success, points to the fear of failure as one of the most common barriers stopping business leaders from even attempting creative improvement ideas. But I can’t go past how well LEGO’s David Gram puts it, “You need to fail or else you aren’t being bold enough”.

This doesn’t mean setting out to fail. Instead, it means allowing your innovation team to know failure is okay in a wider context. Teams need to know that the leadership wants them to dare, to know if they fail that it is merely a step toward innovation. Innovative teams need the confidence to be able to change course when hitting a roadblock and to get back on track without repercussions.

LEGO’s Future Lab article is a quick read on getting started on the innovation pathway. If you want to take it seriously and go to the next step, read more about our Improvement Management Office and the insight, examples and tools we can offer to help you get started.

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